Red Sox begin search for Papelbon's replacement

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Red Sox begin search for Papelbon's replacement

BOSTON While the Yankees Mariano Rivera has been the gold standard for closers on the field, Jonathan Papelbon has maintained -- throughout the series of one-year contracts he signed with the Red Sox -- that he wanted to set the contractual bar in free agency for those pitchers who can close out a game.

On Friday he did just that, agreeing to what CSN's Jim Salisbury reports is a four-year, 50 million contract (pending a physical, expected to be next week) that includes a fifth-year option that could push the total value of the deal to 60 million. The deal would represent a record for a guaranteed contract for a closer.

Papelbons departure opens a huge hole in the Sox bullpen. The question is, will the Sox turn to Daniel Bard as the closer, or shop in a tradefree-agent market that general manager Ben Cherington describes as sort of bountiful in regards to closers . . . relative to some years?

First, Bard:

I think Daniel would embrace more responsibility, Cherington said. Daniels, I think, one of the most prepared and conscientious guys that we have in that clubhouse and hes proven hes an elite major-league pitcher . . . I think he would embrace more responsibility and hes ready for more responsibility.

"Were not ready to commit to any role for Daniel or anyone else in the bullpen. But hes certainly ready for more responsibility if given to him."

As for external options:

Weve talked to a bunch of free-agent closers and talked to other teams about guys that might be available in trade," said Cherington. "Not something that I would comment as far as specific names, but there are options out there this winter in the bullpen, including guys that have pitched in the ninth inning. So its an area that if we feel like we need to address, therell be options in the offseason to do that.

While Cherington would prefer to go into spring training with the closer determined, its not a requirement.

I do feel that its important to have a defined closer on Opening Day, Cherington said. I dont think its critical to have a defined closer in spring training, though it's probably preferable. And we may very well have a defined closer when we open camp. But theres been years where weve been really successful when we havent had that.

So I dont think we can lock ourselves into that because then . . . we sort of force ourselves to do it at all costs. So we just got to evaluate the options and, like I said, we know that were going to need to add pitching depth both in the bullpen and in the rotation. Theres different ways to do that. But there are available options out there.

And now, it appears, the Sox must begin to explore those options.

Quotes, notes and stars: Pedroia was focused on winning, not streak

Quotes, notes and stars: Pedroia was focused on winning, not streak

BOSTON -- Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 8-3 win over the Royals:

QUOTES

“I hadn’t really thought about it. Trying to win games. It’s late in the year . . . I don’t really have time to sit back and pat myself on the back for anything. We’re trying to win as a team.” - Dustin Pedroia on the importance of the 11-for-11 stretch in his career.

“It’s fun. It’s why you go to work in December, January, February. It’s all the work you put in up to this point. It feels good to go out there and get the results you expect to get, especially against a team like [the Royals] who is hot as they are right now.” - David Price on pitching meaningful games with a playoff-like atmosphere.

“Yeah, yeah we [knew about the streak] . . .  It was an awesome roll and it was fun to see . . . Every time I went up to hit, I let Salvador Perez know.” - Xander Bogaerts on Dustin Pedroia’s 11-for-11 streak.

“I think we’ve been able to handle velocity very well. We’ve got good bat-speed in out lineup, and we’re able to handle that.” - John Farrell on the offense thriving against good pitching.

 

NOTES

* David Ortiz played in his 1,000th game at Fenway Park, becoming the fifth player to do so.

* Ortiz also became the first player ever to play 2,000 games as the designated hitter.

* Mookie Betts scored his 100th run of the season off his 29th home run of the year, joining Fred Lynn, Johnny Pesky and Ted Williams as the only players to reach 100 runs before turning 24.

* The Red Sox hit back-to-back home runs for the fourth time this season with Betts and Hanley Ramirez going yard in the fifth.

* With his 2-for-4 day at the plate, Jackie Bradley Jr. improved to 34-for-94 (.362) batting ninth.

 

STARS

1) Dustin Pedroia

Pedroia finished 4-for-5, extending his streak to 11 hits in 11 at-bats, finishing one shy of tying the MLB record.

2) David Price

Price logged his fourth straight quality start with his six-inning, two-run start. He also dropped his ERA below 4.00 for the first time since his Opening Day start with Boston.

3) Salvador Perez

Perez finished 2-for-3 with two home runs. Saturday marked only the second multi-home run game of his career.

First impressions: Price, Pedroia lead Red Sox to 8-3 win over Royals

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First impressions: Price, Pedroia lead Red Sox to 8-3 win over Royals

BOSTON -- First impressions from the Red Sox 8-3 win over the Kansas City Royals:

 

David Price has found a groove.

Price finally brought his ERA below 4.00.

He’d been about that mark since his second start of the season. Twenty-six starts later, he finally reached the mark.

Saturday’s start marked Price’s fourth-straight quality start. Price will soon eclipse the 200-strikeout, reaching 186 K’s with his seven-strikeout performance.

Although the lefty hasn’t been at his best throughout much of the year, he’s caught fire of late.

Possibly at the most important part of the season, too.

 

Dustin Pedroia just missed making history, can’t buy an out.

Boston’s second baseman entered Saturday with seven hits in his last seven at-bats. He stretched that streak to 11-for-11 with a 4-for-4 game.

He had the chance to go 12-for-12 in the eighth, but weakly grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.

He’s also the first Red Sox player with three straight four-hit games at Fenway Park since 1913.

Boston’s second baseman continues to prove that his struggles in recent years were directly related to injuries, not diminishing performance.

 

The offense passed a big test.

It might’ve appeared that Danny Duffy was a middle-of-the-road pitcher with the way Red Sox hitters tattooed him in Saturday’s win.

But the right only had one loss in 19 starts, with a 2.66 ERA (2.61 as a starter).

Between the long balls and Dustin Pedroia’s incessant ways of late, they ballooned his ERA to 3.01.

A respectable number, still, but a jump of nearly a half of a run.

 

Sandy Leon’s in a minor cold spell.

Possibly the greatest story of Boston’s 2016 offense, Leon hasn’t had too many struggles along the way.

But after finishing 0-for-4 Saturday night, he’s only 2-for-21 (.095) in his last five games.

Saturday also marked only the third time all season where he was held hitless in back-to-back games.

These things happen to everyone, but it was starting to look like Leon didn’t fall under the category of “everyone.”