Red Sox slide not enough to keep agents away

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Red Sox slide not enough to keep agents away

BOSTON -- The postseason missed for a third straight season. A last-place finish in the division for the first time in 20 years. A blockbuster, organization-altering trade in August. Another season ended in shambles. Organizational dysfunction. Poor communication. Sour clubhouse culture. Chain-of-command issues. A managerial search for the second consecutive year.

If you were an agent would you want your free agent to go to a team mired in that?

You might be surprised at the answers. Several agents weighed in with their thoughts on possibly having a free agent client join the Red Sox.

Would you steer a client away from the Sox?

Absolutely not, said one agent. No, its a tremendous place to play, great city, one of the best ballparks in the league, great baseball history. Theres a lot of guys who would love to play for the Boston Red Sox. Ownership has always been very supportive of the fans. Theyve always done a very nice job trying to bring the best players to put the best product on the field. Players love to play in Boston. I really believe that. I think it takes a special type of player to play in Boston and New York and LA and Chicago. But at the end of the day -- I can assure you this -- every agent would love to have the Boston Red Sox involved in one of their free agents because they know that its a first-class organization, first-class place to play, tremendous city. Absolutely 100 percent.

The Boston Red Sox have been around for 100 years and they will have no shortage of quality players who want to play for the Red Sox, said another agent. Organizations, management, players come and go and some teams are, at particular times, hotter than others or have a better culture than others. The Red Sox will be able to attract quality free agents and good players regardless of the hiccups theyve had in the last few years. Im very confident of that.

Up until December of last year, said another agent, I think people in our business had all due respect for the Red Sox and what they accomplished over the previous seven, eight, nine years and looked at it as an extremely valuable option to have in your hands if you had a free agent player. And obviously for a period of 12 months the wheels fell off. But that doesnt mean it will stay that way. I think its all the more reason why it wont stay that way.

I would certainly be open-minded to signing free agents with the Boston Red Sox. The guys up there in the front office are not stupid. And it wont, in my opinion, take long to right the ship. As far as Im concerned the major glitch in that 12-month period where the wheels fell off was making a horrible decision about who was going to manage the team.

It took until Dec. 1 to hire Bobby Valentine as the manager last season. But, the Sox didnt start interviewing until Oct. 31, caught up in negotiations with the Cubs to allow Theo Epstein to go to Chicago and the subsequent compensation. This year, the Sox began the interview process on Friday, eight days after Valentine was fired.

Would you be more guarded in dealing with the Red Sox until you know who the manager will be?

No, I think theyll hire a good manager, said one of the agents. In my mind that piece will be in place before free agents are making decisions, anyway. So I dont think thatll be an issue.

If youre a free agent who has multiple opportunities in different cities, you might wait to see who the manager is, said another agent. But if youre a good free agent looking for a spot to play, say hypothetically a starting pitcher, the Red Sox really need starting pitching right now, I think the spot and opportunity to play would be more important than the manager. But I also think the Red Sox are going to move fairly quickly on the this. I think the manager is going to be in place first before they start looking for players.

After sending their three largest contracts to the Dodgers in August, the Sox have said they are unlikely to be in the running for the big-money, long-term contracts it may take to sign some free agents. Would that cause you to shy away from the Red Sox?

I would welcome the opportunity for any of my clients to play in Boston, said one of the agents. I foresee Boston always continuing to be an attractive place to play for any free agent. The organizations front office does a tremendous job. I believe in those guys. They had a rough year. It was tough. But I think general manager Ben Cherington is going to do a great job. Hes a straight shooter. And I think thats the biggest thing. Agents like to deal with people that are honest and straight forward, and those guys are very straight forward and very honest and we as agents totally appreciate that.

Posey stays out of the fray during Strickland-Harper brawl

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Posey stays out of the fray during Strickland-Harper brawl

SAN FRANCISCO  — As an irate Bryce Harper charged toward the mound, Buster Posey just stood and watched from behind home plate.

And when the Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants cleared their benches Monday and punches flew both ways, the All-Star catcher did his best to remain just outside the fray.

Not where some expected to find the Giants team leader with his pitcher, Hunter Strickland, exchanging head shots with Harper.

“Posey did NOTHING to stop Harper from getting to his pitcher,” former major league pitcher Dontrelle Willis wrote on Twitter. “I’ve never seen that before in my life.”

Posey declined to enter the fracas, instead remaining around its edges and watching as the players scuffled in “a pretty good pile,” as Giants manager Bruce Bochy called it.

Posey dealt with a concussion in April after being struck in the head by a pitch, but did not say he held back because of concerns related to that. He did say he was wary about the risk of injury.

“There were some big guys tumbling around out there,” Posey said. “You see Mike Morse and Jeff Samardzija are about as big as they come and he was getting knocked around like a pinball. So it was a little dangerous to get in there.”

Still, social media was abuzz at the sight of Posey not sticking up for his teammate.

“Strickland must have told @BusterPosey he was hitting him and let him come cause he didn’t even give a soft jog,” Willis wrote.

“Says all you need to know that Buster Posey didn’t bother to hold back Harper,” tweeted Fox broadcaster Kevin Burkhardt . “Let him go get his pitcher.”

Also absent from the fight: hard-nosed Giants ace Madison Bumgarner. As his teammates flew over the dugout railing, Bumgarner stayed put, perhaps because the left-hander is still recovering after injuring his pitching shoulder and ribs in a dirt biking accident in April.

 

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.