Cherington weighs options on international prospects


Cherington weighs options on international prospects

MILWAUKEE -- Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington is heading to the Dominican Republic Friday to discuss some changes to the team's international department and also to watch highly-regarded Cuban prospect, Yoenis Cespedes, a five-tool right-handed hitting outfielder.

Cespedes, who has defected from Cuba and has already worked out for other clubs, is 26 years old. Reports have him seeking a similar deal as the one given to fellow countryman Aroldis Chapman (30 million) two years ago.

"He's certainly an intriguing talent," said Cherington. "He's a guy who's performed in Cuba. He's a right-handed hitting outfielder with tools and power and he's been impressive in some workouts. But we need to get to know him a lot better. We'll know him better after this weekend than we do now."

The Sox are in the market for a right-handed bat in right field, but Cherington was unsure if Cespedes would be ready to play in the big leagues in 2012.

"I couldn't say yes or no," he said. "I don't think we know him well enough yet. It's hard to translate performance in Cuba to the big leagues. We can try to do it, but it's hard. Even the highest profile Cuban free agents have needed some assimilation and transition to baseball in the States.

"There does tend to be a bit of a transition. Very few guys have stepped into the big leagues and been successful right away. Guys have stepped into the big leagues, but not necessarily been successful right away."

Cherington seemed less willing to confirm that the Sox will be players for Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish. Darvish is expected to be posted by his Japanese team later this month and will the most sought-after Japanese pitcher since Daisuke Matsuzaka signed with the Red Sox in December of 2006.

Matsuzaka, who will miss most of 2012 after undergoing Tommy John surgery last summer, won 33 games in his first two seasons. But he's been both unproductive and dogged by injuries over the last three seasons, making the 103 million commitment (split almost evenly between the posting fee and a six-year contract) a poor investment.

"The timing is different for Matsuzaka and Darvish," said Cherington, "in the sense that we've got a lot invested already in our starting rotation whereas in the winter of 2006, we didn't . . . so there was a little bit more of an opening to get in aggressively on Daisuke. That may not be present this winter. We'll do our due diligence and be prepared, but, if we're not as aggressive it's not because we're scared of the waters and more because this offseason, with the needs we have and the resources we have, we may need to focus elsewhere."

Indeed, the Sox have 148 million committed to five starters -- Matsuzaka, John Lackey, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz.

Trump says NFL should fire players who kneel during anthem


Trump says NFL should fire players who kneel during anthem

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — President Donald Trump says National Football League owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem. And he’s encouraging spectators to walk out in protest.

In an extended riff during a freewheeling rally speech in Alabama Friday night, Trump also bemoaned that football games have become less violent.

“They’re ruining the game,” he complained.

Several athletes, including NFL players, have refused to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner” to protest of the treatment of blacks by police.

Trump says those players are disrespecting the flag and deserve to lose their jobs.

“That’s a total disrespect of our heritage. That’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for,” he said, encouraging owners to act.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ’Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,” Trump said to loud applause.

Trump also predicted that any owner who went through with his encouragement would become “the most popular person in this country” — at least for a week.

Trump, who was in Alabama campaigning for Sen. Luther Strange, also blamed a decline in NFL ratings on the nation’s interest in “yours truly” as well as what he described as a decline in violence in the game.

He said players are being thrown out for aggressive tackles, and it’s “not the same game.”

The NFL has made several efforts to reduce violence in the sport, particularly hits that may cause damage to the head. A July report on 202 former football players found evidence of a debilitating brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them. The league has agreed to pay $1 billion to retired players who claimed it misled them about the concussion dangers of playing football.

During his campaign, Trump often expressed nostalgia for the “old days” — claiming, for example, that protesters at his rallies would have been carried out on stretchers back then. He recently suggested police officers should be rougher with criminals and shouldn’t protect their heads when pushing them into quad cars.

It’s also not the first time he’s raised the kneeling issue. Earlier this year he took credit for the fact that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the trend of kneeling during the anthem, hadn’t been signed by an NFL team.

Trump said the protest was the top reason NFL viewership had waned this season.

“You know what’s hurting the game more than that? When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they’re playing our great national anthem,” he said.

Trump encouraged his supporters to pick up and leave the stadium next time they spot a player failing to stand.

“I guarantee things will stop,” he said.


Marchand stepping up his twitter game to hilarious effect


Marchand stepping up his twitter game to hilarious effect

BOSTON – It was probably only a matter of time before it happened, but it looks like Boston’s favorite Little Ball of Hate is stepping up his game on social media.

Brad Marchand is known as much for his rabble-rousing and trash-talking on the ice as he is for massive offensive production while serving as Boston’s top scorer in each of the last few seasons. So Marchand has the perfect mixture of good humor and clout as a star NHL player, and that usually combines for a pretty powerful voice on Twitter.

Marchand has been noticeably more active on Twitter in recent days with a wide-ranging group of tweets, and the big winner is the hockey fan that gets a little more exposure to some classic Nose Face Killah wit. Some of the tweets have been as a Bruins team leader where he’s praising the talented young crop of B’s prospects that he’s watching during training camp:

Some have been about chirping the NHL for their decision to skip the Olympics this winter where Marchand most certainly would have been primed for a chance at a Gold Medal:

Some have been engaging with “fans” and dropping classic pop culture references from children’s books while showing the nasty edge that routinely drives opponents up a wall:

The Charlotte’s Web reference is a devastating classic from Marchand, a noted longtime fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Sometimes it’s just telling a quick story in a tweet that gives you an inside look at the kind of chirping that goes on when Marchand is on the ice:

A social media platform like Twitter was made for a personality like Marchand, and a stepped-up presence is good for him and good for hockey fans. So why all of a sudden is No. 63 tweeting with greater frequency over the last few days?

It sounds like it’s a combination of training camp boredom and a genuine interest in amplifying his voice on all manner of subjects.

“I’ve just been kind of lying around with nothing to do and I jumped on [twitter]…thought it was kind of funny,” said Marchand. “I thought I’d get a little more involved. I don’t know if I’m going to have enough time to do it every day, but it’s fun.”

As fun as it’s been for Marchand, it’s no doubt even more fun for the fans that might get a chance to interact with him even if it’s as the unwitting foil for one of his well-placed chirps.