McAdam: Closing options could be dwindling


McAdam: Closing options could be dwindling

While the Red Sox seemingly endless search for a new manager continues, the team's roster needs have gone unaddressed.

Other than offering salary arbitration to David Ortiz and Dan Wheeler and losing free agent Jonathan Papelbon to the Philadelphia Phillies, the team has seem stuck in place since its season ended so ignominiously on September 28.

The winter meetings begin Monday in Dallas, by which time the team will finally have a manager in place. In the meantime, the club's options for replacements for Papelbon seem to be dwindling.

Two closers in whom the Sox had shown some interest have already signed elsewhere. Joe Nathan agreed to a two-year, 14.5 million deal with the Texas Rangers and Jonathan Broxton signed a one-year, 4 million deal plus incentives Tuesday morning with the Kansas City Royals.

Both were attractive to the Red Sox because they had enjoyed success as closers for playoff teams and were seen as relatively affordable because they were coming off injury concerns. Nathan underwent Tommy John surgery and missed all of 2010 while Broxton appeared in just 14 games last season for the Los Angeles Dodgers before undergoing a surgical procedure to remove bone spurs in his right elbow.

Nathan was apparently determined to pitch in Texas. As for Broxton, the Sox had made contact with his agent before the pitcher's decision to accept a deal with the Royals, with the Sox sending the message that they weren'tyet ready to move aggressively on the closer.

It's unknown how much -- if any -- of that decision was driven by their
focus on a manager, or whether the Sox don't want to make a significant pitching acquisition before choosing a manager and pitching coach.

To be sure, there are still a number of options remaining on the free agents market, including Heath Bell, Francisco Cordero, Francisco Rodriguez, Matt Capps, Frank Francisco, Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson.

Many of these options would seem to be have circumstances or demands that would not make them a good fit for the Red Sox. Bell, for example, has made it known that he would prefer to remain in southern California. And Madson is said to be looking for a deal similar to the one he nearly signed to return to the Phillies (four years, 44 million) before the Phils abruptly shifted gears and opted for Papelbon instead.

If the Sox weren't willing to make that kind of long-term commitment to Papelbon, it's inconceivable that they would do so for Madson, since the two are essentially the same age, though Madson has far less experience closing than does Papelbon.

There are trade options, too, in the closer market. Colorado has let it be known that Huston Street is available and the Sox have at least made initial inquiries with the Rockies.

The danger for the Sox is, that following the Nathan and Broxton signings, a run on closers could begin, leaving the Sox on the sideline, either unwilling or unprepared to move quickly.

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner


Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

BOSTON -- At first, 2016 seemed like the “Year of Xander.” It turned out to be the “Year of Mookie,” with Bogaerts dropping off a little as the season progressed.

The Red Sox shortstop saw his average peak at .359 on June 12. At that point he’d played in 61 games, hit eight home runs, 20 doubles and knocked in 44 runs. Although Mookie Betts had six more home runs and three more RBI in that same span, Bogaerts had six more doubles and was hitting 69 points higher.

The two were already locks for the All-Star Game and Bogaerts still had the edge in early MVP talk.

Then things took a turn after the very day Bogaerts saw his average peak.

Over the next 61 games, Bogaerts still managed seven homers, but only had six doubles and 27 RBI, watching his average drop to .307 by the end of that stretch. At first glance, .307 doesn’t seem like an issue, but he dropped 52 points after hitting .253 in that span.

And in his remaining 35 games, Bogaerts only hit .248 -- although he did have six homers.

But throughout it all, Bogaerts never seemed fazed by it. With pitchers and catchers reporting in less than a month, Bogaerts still isn’t worried about the peaks and valleys.

“You go through it as a player, the only one’s who don’t go through that are the ones not playing,” Bogaerts told before the Boston baseball writers' dinner Thursday. “I just gotta know you’re going to be playing good for sometime, you’re going to be playing bad for sometime.

“Just try to a lot more better times than bad times. It’s just a matter of trusting yourself, trusting your abilities and never doubting yourself. Obviously, you get a lot of doubts when you’re playing bad, but you just be even keeled with whatever situation is presented.”

Bogaerts level head is something often noted by coaches and his teammates, carrying through the days he finds himself lunging left and right for pitches. That’s also carried him through the offseason while maintaining the same preparation from past seasons -- along with putting on some weight.

“I don’t know how much I put on, but I feel strong,” Bogaerts said to “I mean, I look strong in the mirror.

“Hopefully, I’m in a good position when the season comes because I know I’ll lose [the weight].”