Is Theo playing games?

794062.jpg

Is Theo playing games?

Last week, Jon Heyman reported that the Red Sox and Cubs were among the favorites to land Angels pitcher Dan Haren. In the end, neither team pulled the trigger and Haren was bought out (he's now a free agent), but the idea of Boston and Chicago competing for the same player will always raise a red flag here at Standing Room Only.

On one hand, you can understand how and why the two franchises might have similar interests. With all the time that Theo Epstein and Ben Cherington spent together on Yawkey Way, they're probably more similar than any two decision makers in baseball. They obviously value the same qualities, and are intrigued by the same type of players. There's no question that we're headed for many, many occasions where the Sox and Cubs are reportedly after the same guy.

But at the same time, it will always be a little fishy. Especially in a situation like this one, when the Sox were rumored to be interested in Haren for a while, and then the Cubs suddenly emerged as a last-minute possibility.

It's only natural to wonder what's really going on.

After all, even though Theo now works for another team (and in a different league), you know that his rivalry with Larry Lucchino isn't over. In many respects, it's just getting started. You know and Theo knows that while the idea of losing out on a player won't sit well with Lucchino; the idea of losing out on a player to Epstein's Cubs will send him through the roof. So why wouldn't Theo use that to his advantage? Why not have some fun at the expense of crazy old Lucchino?

I can picture it now:

LOCATION: Theo's Office. He and Jed Hoyer are in there together. Feet up on the desk; throwing around a tennis ball.

HOYER: "Hey, you hear the Sox are after Haren?"

EPSTEIN: "Ha! Yeah. What a mess over there."

HOYER: "Yup. You know, anytime you can trade for a 32-year-old pitcher who's making 15 million and coming off the worst season of his career . . ."

EPSTEIN: (starts laughing) "Oh man. I just had a great idea. You have Jon Heyman's number?"

HOYER: (takes out cell phone) "Yup. Right here."

EPSTEIN: "OK, give me your phone. (Texting): Hey John - What's the latest on Haren? We're VERY interested. Want to know who else is in the mix."

MEANWHILE, BACK IN BOSTON . . .

LARRY LUCCHINO: "Sally, get me Cherington on the phone."

SALLY: "Right away, master."

LUCCHINO: Ben, it's Larry. Did you see this latest report from Heyman? He says that the Cubs are in on Haren. We are not losing this & guy to Epstein. Do you hear me?

CHERINGTON: (Inaudible mumbling)

LUCCHINO: "I DON'T CARE IF YOU THINK IT'S A JOKE. And I don't care if it takes Bogarts AND Bradley. Get me Haren or you're FIRED!"

Or something like that.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Posey stays out of the fray during Strickland-Harper brawl

bryce_harper_hunter_strickland_fight_052917.jpg

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

red_sox_dustin_pedroia_052917.jpg

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.