Red Sox have big decisions to make for 2011 payroll

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Red Sox have big decisions to make for 2011 payroll

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

CHICAGO -- The bad news for the Red Sox? They have lots of improvements to make for next year and risk losing two key players to free agency.

The good news? They should have room in their budget -- assuming they spend close to their payroll figure of this year -- to spend toward making the team a playoff contender again.

For now, the Red Sox are committed to approximately 100.5 million to 12 players for 2011, plus assorted payments on existing buyout clauses and the like.

The team will be rid of deals for Mike Lowell (12 million), Jason Varitek (3 million) and shortstop Julio Lugo (9 million). (Lugo hasn't played for the team since July of 2009, but the Sox were responsible for his contract this season).

In addition, several key players -- including closer Jonathan Papelbon and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury -- are due significant raises through the salary arbitration process. Papelbon will likely get somewhere between 11-12 million, with Ellsbury expected to get somewhere just under 1 million.

Furthermore, if the Sox elect to pick up the 12.5 option for slugger David Ortiz, that would bring the projected payroll to approximately 125 million for 15 players.

That would leave approximately 40 million or so to spend on players acquired from outside the organization, either through trade or free agency -- if, that is, the Sox intend to spend roughly to the level they spent this year.

The budget has not yet been set for 2011, and even when it is, the team is loathe to release details about its spending limits, arguing that making such information public puts the team at a competitive disadvantage.

Until the parameters are known, it's uncertain exactly how many impact free agents the Red Sox might be able to sign.

Re-signing both third baseman Adrian Beltre and catcher Victor Martinez will likely cost the Sox a combined 25 million. If they kept both, would there still be money in the budget to add an impact free-agent outfielder such as Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth?

Both Werth and Crawford are expected to sign long-term deals with an average annual value in excess of 15 million.

Signing Beltre, Martinez and either Crawford or Werth would cost more than 40 million and would cover just 18 roster spots. Factor in another seven players -- even young players without arbitration rights or inexpensive free agents -- would mean another 5-10 million, and carrying the payroll well past 170 million for the first time.

One positive for the Sox -- their starting rotation, though expensive, is a fixed cost for 2011, with all five starters under control.

"When you have to go out and sign starting pitching,'' said one rival executive, ''that's where it really gets costly. They have some holes, but at least they don't have to go out on the free agent pitching market.''

To save payroll, it's possible that the Sox could deal Daisuke Matsuzaka -- due 8 million next season and 10 million in 2012 -- for outfield help, while giving the fifth spot in the rotation to a younger (and far less expensive) option such as Felix Doubront.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam.

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.

Wright extends scoreless streak to 9 1/3 innings in Red Sox' 10-7 win over Pirates

Wright extends scoreless streak to 9 1/3 innings in Red Sox' 10-7 win over Pirates

The angst surrounding the David Price- and (possibly) Drew Pomeranz-less Red Sox starting rotation may have eased a little -- or a lot -- on Thursday.

Steven Wright extended his string of scoreless spring-training innings to 9 1/3 by blanking the Pirates for 4 1/3 innings in his third spring-traing start, leading the Sox to a 10-7 victory over the Pirates at SkyBlue Park.

Red Sox-Pirates box score

Wright allowed two hits -- the only two hits he's allowed this spring -- with one walk and three strikeouts.

Several of his pitching brethren, notably Heath Hembree and Robbie Ross Jr., didn't fare nearly as well. (See box score above.) But the Sox -- using what may be their regular-season batting order for the first time -- bailed them out with a 16-hit attack, led by Dustin Pedroia (3-for-3, now hitting ,500 for the spring). Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, Jackie Bradley Jr., and, yes, Pablo Sandoval each added two hits. Sandoval also drove in three runs and is now hitting .362.

Xander Bogaerts went 1-for-4 in his return to the Sox from the World Baseball Classic.