McAdam: Sox owners have more to gain by staying put

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McAdam: Sox owners have more to gain by staying put

TORONTO -- There's no way of telling, definitively, whether there was any merit to the published report that the owners of the Red Sox have begun consideringplottinginvestigating selling the team.

But for now, let's assume that the depths to which John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino went to deny the story means they are not, in fact, selling. Time will either validate their denial or expose them as less than truthful.

A large segment of the fan base, understandably upset over three straight playoff DNQs, to say nothing of the soap opera that has been ongoing for the past 12 months, would like nothing more than Henry and Co. to leave town.

And to be sure, to borrow one of Lucchino's favorite phrases, there's plenty of criticism warranted at the trio, who, beyond allowing the franchise to go to seed, have demonstrated a tin ear of late.

(Example: Recently, one member of ownership expressed complete surprise that the near-universal outside perception is that the organization lacks the proper chain of command).

But let's be fair: in the past decade, this ownership has overseen two world championships and performed a nice remake of a ballpark now 100 years old.

They have spent -- not always wisely, of course -- and invested. Complain about the incessant marketing and "Sweet Caroline,'' but the fan experience at Fenway is worlds better than it was before they took over from the Yawkey Trust, when the ballpark was a dirty, outmoded money pit.

But here's why you should hope that Henry et al stay around: they're motivated.

Not motivated, as in ''motivated sellers.'' Motivated to repair their standing and legacy.

An oft-repeated criticism of Red Sox ownership is that they're too mindful of what others think. They read coverage of the team, listen to talk radio and ask around what's being said about them.

Lucchino can recite all the anecdotal evidence he likes about Massachusetts-reared-Rockies employees hugging him at owners' meetings and professing their undying love for the franchise.

But he and Henry and Werner aren't so isolated that they don't know how angry the fans are. And that may be the Red Sox' saving grace. Because these owners want -- some would suggest "need" -- to be liked. They enjoyed being seen as the white knights who rescued the team from the crony clutches of the Yawkey Estate.

Having experienced that emotional high, having been celebrated, they now are about as well-regarded as Jeremy Jacobs was pre-Cup: depicted as absentee and blissfully unconcerned about the team's fall from grace.

Long ago labeled "carpet-baggers'' because they had the poor sense to have been born outside Rte. 128, they're now in the community. Lucchino lives here year-round and Henry is here nearly half the year. So they hear, they read, they're all too familiar with the fact that the tide has turned against them.

What's more, they know they're going to take a hit for their misdeed. Already, TV ratings have fallen sharply, and the real trouble will come this winter when ticket sales -- both season-ticket and individial game -- take a similar dip.

Henry, Werner and Lucchino understand the importance of restoring the brand and making the Sox winners again. Such a turnaround will restore their standing and prove that the titles in 2004 and 2007 weren't happy accidents.

Could they cash out now and double their investment? Undoubtedly. But what's the hurry?

Name a baseball franchise whose value has decreased. The presence of labor peace provides stability and continuity for the forseeable future. Further, the escalation of TV money boosts the value of every franchise.

(The cable deal with ESPN resulted in a doubling of rights fees and when MLB reaches agreement with either Fox or NBC on the bigger package involving the World Series, All-Star Game and other post-season properties, the jump could be bigger still).

So, yes, the Sox could sell right now for, conservatively, 1.5 billion. But in another few years, with another pennant or World Series flag flying over Fenway, the selling price could put the L.A. Dodgers' pricetag to shame.

Better to have Henry, Werner and Lucchino have something to prove rather than sell when the team has bottomed out.

Rick Porcello starts, Drew Pomeranz relieves in Red Sox' 5-3 loss to Twins

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Rick Porcello starts, Drew Pomeranz relieves in Red Sox' 5-3 loss to Twins

Rick Porcello and Drew Pomeranz combined to allow all five of the Red Sox' runs in Boston's 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

Porcello finished his start by fanning four, allowing four hits and earning two runs over four innings. Pomeranz followed in the next four innings with four strikeouts, five hits allowed and three earned runs. Pomeranz allowed ByungHo Park's eighth-inning, two-run homer, which ended up being the game-winner.

Porcello, however, was optimistic after the loss.

"The buildup was good," Porcello told reporters, via RedSox.com. "Today I felt as good as I've felt all spring. At this point, I'm ready to go. I'm looking forward to the start of the season."

While the Sox offense was able to get three runs off Ervin Santana in his 4 2/3 innings, they struggled against the Twins' next five pitchers. Xander Bogaerts (2 of 3) and Pablo Sandoval (1 of 3) managed homers. Hanley (3 of 3) Ramirez had a double, and Dustin Pedroia (2 of 3) had two singles.

Kyle Kendrick will start Thursday in the Sox' final Spring Training series against the Washington Nationals. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m. ET.

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who’s on first? A middle infielder, maybe.

Hanley Ramirez, Josh Rutledge and Mitch Moreland aren't fully healthy. So the 25th man on the Red Sox has become a matter of corner-infield triage.

Rutledge was gearing up to play some first base with Ramirez restricted to DH because of his throwing shoulder. But Rutledge is hurt now too, likely headed to the disabled list with a left hamstring strain, Sox manager John Farrell said Wednesday morning in Florida.

Here’s the easiest way to think about who takes Rutledge's place: Who would the Red Sox like to see less against left handed pitching, third baseman Pablo Sandoval or first baseman Mitch Moreland? 

If it’s Sandoval, then you carry Marco Hernandez, who can play third base.

“He’s a very strong candidate,” manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday. “He’s one of a few that are being considered strongly right now.” 

If it’s Moreland, than you carry Steve Selsky, who has a history playing first base.

“He’s a guy we’re having discussions on,” Farrell said. “Any guy in our camp that we feel is going to make us a more complete or balanced roster, Deven Marrero, they’re all in consideration.”

The additional wrench here is that Moreland has the flu. If he's not available at all for a few days to begin the season, then the Sox probably have to carry Hernandez.

Why? Because Brock Holt can play some first base if Moreland is out. But then, you’d need another back-up middle infielder, and Hernandez gives you that. 

Hernandez is also hitting .379 in 58 at-bats this spring entering Wednesday.

Moreland isn’t the only one who has the flu.

"It’s running through our clubhouse," Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday, including the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. "Probably be held out for three days for a quarantine.” (LINK:http://www.providencejournal.com/sports/20170329/with-josh-rutledge-and-mitch-moreland-ailing-first-base-depth-compromised-for-red-sox)

That means the Red Sox won't have Moreland for their exhibitions against the Nationals on Friday and Saturday in Washington D.C. and Annapolis, Md. Moreland could still be ready for the regular season, but would likely be at less than full strength.

Having Ramirez available would sure make things a lot simpler for the Sox.

Both Sandoval at third base and Moreland could use right-handed bats to complement them. Or more specifically, they could use people who can hit left-handed pitching to complement them.

Hernandez is a left-handed hitter who might actually be able to hit lefties. But the Sox haven't used him at first base, and there's no indication they will.

“As we look at the upcoming games, there is the potential for two left-handed starters in Detroit,” Farrell said. “So there’s a number of things being factored right now.”

Early in spring training, Farrell was asked what player had started to catch his eye.

The guy he mentioned was Selsky, an outfielder and first baseman the Red Sox feel fortunate to have picked up off waivers because he still has minor league options remaining.

Now Selsky, who has already technically been cut from major league spring training, has a chance at making the opening day roster. He's 27 and hit .356 in 45 Grapefruit League at-bats.

Chris Young isn't going to have an easy time finding at-bats as it stands now, but the Sox aren't considering moving him to first base.