McAdam: Sox saving their money

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McAdam: Sox saving their money

Some 30 years ago, an oil filter company had a TV spot, the tag line to which was: "You can pay me now . . . or pay me later.''

If you put that choice to the Red Sox in 2012, they would opt for the latter.

Despite a report Tuesday which suggested that they were "closing in" on a short-term deal with free agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda -- a report denied by multiple industry sources -- the Sox are not likely to spend much more on their payroll before the start of the regular season.

Look at the nature of their recent signings: Carlos Silva, Aaron Cook and Justin Germano. Each is a small move, with little in the way of guaranteed money on the major-league payroll.

With a rotation that boasts Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Clay Buccholz and, for the time being, Daniel Bard, the Red Sox think they already have four quality starters.

To find a fifth, they're willing to have a spring competition between a handful of in-house candidates (Felix Doubront, Andrew Miller, Alfredo Aceves) and some of the low-cost minor-league free agents added in the last 10 days (Silva, Cook, Germano).

If they're fortunate, one will emerge as the Red Sox' version of either Bartolo Colon or Freddy Garcia, two veterans who helped the New York Yankees last season when the Yanks were in a similar cost-conscious mode.

With some off-days in the mix, the Red Sox need to get 15 or so starts from a fifth starter by the All-Star break.

Should they spend their money now, the Sox will give themselves little flexibility to make any in-season moves.

As such, the Red Sox have posed this question: Is it more likely that A) we can find a suitable back-end starter now and not need help in July, or is it more likely we can B) cobble together some fifth-starter solution for the first half of the year then have some available resources should we need to re-assess and make a move at the deadline?

The answer, of course, is "B.''

If the All-Star break arrives and the team needs pitching reinforcements -- either because of injuries or performance issues or both -- the Sox will have some flexibility for the final two months of the season and beyond.

What's more, their chances of convincing ownership that the addition outlay of salary in July will be better then than it is now.

When you factor in upcoming salary increases through arbitration, the remainder of the 40-man roster and the cost of benefits, the Sox are already projected to be over the luxury tax threshold of 178 million.
Signing an expensive veteran such as Kuroda or Roy Oswalt now would send them well over that figure, with no guarantee that either pitcher would hold up physically.
If the Sox put some money aside, find some cheaper in-house solutions and remain in contention, they will give themselves additional options. Remember, taking on salary at the July 31 deadline means taking on almost exactly one-third of someone's yearly pay.

So, should, Silva, Miller and Cook get them through the first 3 12 months of the schedule, the Sox will have saved their financial bullets to allow them to make a bigger impact at the deadline.

Carson Smith 'had to take a step back' in recovery from Tommy John

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Carson Smith 'had to take a step back' in recovery from Tommy John

Neither set-up man the Red Sox traded for under president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, Tyler Thornburg and Carson Smith, is throwing off a mound presently.

Smith, on his way back from Tommy John surgery, felt soreness after throwing a bullpen session and is back to doing long toss. 

"He’s had to slow down," Sox manager John Farrell said Thursday. "Once he got on the mound with some aggression and good intensity, was throwing the ball well. And as a result there’s been some soreness that has kind of reared its head. So have had to back him off, back into long toss, he’s thrown out to about 110 feet here today. We’re hopeful that in the very near future that mound progression resumes.

"The unique thing about Tommy John recovery is that every situation is going to be different. In this case, we’ve had to take a step back a little bit and get back to flat ground."

Smith is in Boston as part of a previously scheduled meet-up with the team, Farrell said. When the season began, Smith was rehabbing in Florida. He was put on the 60-day disabled list on Thursday, a formality that opened up a 40-man roster spot for new acquisition Chase d'Arnaud.

Smith was put on the disabled list on April 3, so he can return June 2 at the earliest, but may now need more time.

Thornburg (right shoulder impingement) is building up his long-toss distance.

In other injury news, Brock Holt (vertigo) may begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday or Saturday, Farrell said.

Despite series lead, Celtics lament their inability to hit open shots

Despite series lead, Celtics lament their inability to hit open shots

BOSTON – There are many factors you can point to in the regular season as indicators of what may happen when two NBA  teams meet in the playoffs.

You don't have to be inside the Chicago Bulls' locker room to know that when it comes to the Celtics, they were fully prepared to face a team that took a lot of 3's but wasn’t necessarily shooting them at a high percentage. 
 
That reality has certainly come into focus in Boston’s first-round series against the Chicago, one the C’s lead 3-2 as they continue to try and 3-point shoot their way on to the next round – without giving a damn how many long-range shots it takes to get the job done. 

In five playoff games, Boston is shooting 45.3 percent from the field, which puts them in the middle of the pack (eighth overall) among the 16 teams that qualified for the postseason.
 
But when it comes to the long ball, they are on the back-nine of playoff teams, ranking 10th while shooting 32.4 percent from 3-point range while leading all postseason clubs with 38.7 3-point attempts per game.

In the regular season, the Celtics ranked 16th in field-goal percentage (.454) and 14th in 3-point shooting (35.9 percent) while attempting 33.4 3's per game, which trailed only Houston (40.3) and Cleveland (33.9) this season.  

Boston's shooting from the field mirrors what it did in the regular season, but they know all too well that their shooting percentage in this series should be much higher due to the high number of open shots they have missed. 
 
Take a look at Game 5.
 
In the 108-97 win, the Celtics shot an impressive 53.1 percent when their shots were contested.
 
But let the Bulls have a defensive breakdown like a failed switch, or a guy gets beat for what turns into a great opportunity for Boston to score with no resistance, and instead of burying the open shot, the Celtics have  consistently blown those opportunities. That’s evident by the C’s connecting on just 30.8 percent (12-for-39) of their uncontested field-goal attempts in Game 5.
 
Even the usually reliable Isaiah Thomas had issues making uncontested shots in Game 5 and this series as a whole.
 
He had 24 points and shared game-high scoring honors with Avery Bradley on Wednesday night, but Thomas probably should have led everyone outright in scoring when you consider he had five open shots and wound up missing four of them.
 
That’s why when it comes to Boston’s offense, the last thing Thomas or any of his teammates complains about is getting the shots they want.
 
“I’ve been getting good open looks,” he said. “My teammates have been getting me open. We just got to knock down the shots. Coach [Stevens] keeps saying one day soon we’re going to knock down the open shots that we are missing and it might be [Game 6].”