Red Sox

Bard gives up run in one inning out of PawSox pen

743376.jpg

Bard gives up run in one inning out of PawSox pen

PAWTUCKET, R.I. In his second outing with Triple-A Pawtucket since being demoted June 7, Daniel Bard pitched one inning Monday night against the Gwinnett Braves. He gave up one run on one hit and one walk with two strikeouts.

He threw 22 pitches, 11 for strikes, with just one first-pitch strike, to his fifth and final batter. Bard has an ERA of 18.00 with Pawtucket.

The PawSox lost to Gwinnett, 11-8.

Entering in the sixth inning with the PawSox trailing by five runs, Bard gave up a lead-off single to Jose Constanza, the Braves lead-off hitter, and a four-pitch walk to Luis Durango. A passed ball on the third pitch to Durango had already sent Constanza to second base. On a 2-1 pitch to Tyler Pastornicky, Constanza and Durango completed a double steal. Pastornicky grounded out to Pedro Ciriaco at short, scoring Constanza.

Bard got out of the inning with consecutive strikeouts. He retired Ernesto Mejia, swinging at an 85-mph slider, and Stefan Gartrell looking at an 83-mph slider.

Bards fastball velocity was in the 92-94 mph range.

I thought there were some real positive steps tonight, said manager Arnie Beyeler. I thought he did a nice job. To start with he got guys out. He got two big hitters out in the middle of the order. I thought some real positive steps. Had some plane to his ball. Was around the zone better. And I know they put some good work in, him and pitching coach Rich Sauveur out there, and he felt good coming in tonight and felt positive. so even though he was around the zone, still wasnt as consistent as I know he needs to be at the next level, but definitely positive steps from the last time out.

Bard also was pleased with his outing.

It took me two batters I think to really get locked in to an arm slot, Bard said. I was a little bit low, lower than I would like on those first couple hitters and you saw some balls running away from me. And then I make the adjustment and I think pitched pretty well to those last three guys. So the nice thing is I can focus on that and say I wasnt perfect but it doesnt matter. I was locked in, I got something good to walk away with those last three hitters.

He looked like he was thinking too much, said one scout in attendance. He usually looks so fluid. But he wasnt finishing his pitches.

He looked awful on the first two batters, and much better for the last three, said another. I think they did the right thing letting him pitch one inning and get some confidence back. I still think hes a seventh or eighth inning pitcher, nothing more, nothing less.

Bard had originally been scheduled to start the game. Instead, he was taken out of the starters role, as CSNNE.com was the first to report earlier Monday, with right-hander Billy Buckner making the start, with Bard scheduled to pitch one inning.

Bard has not given up on starting.

I just told them after that last one Friday night, I said that starting with the intention of going one inning just felt really strange, Bard said. I mean, it felt like a very manufactured situation, didnt feel like I was really part of a baseball game. So I just told them, I said Im all good with the short stints closer together. I think thats a good way to get back on track but I dont see, if were trying to go with more of a bullpen feel, which is kind of what they talked to me about when we get through this and then translate to starting, I said why dont we just do it out of the bullpen? So, I told them lets just do that. And they were OK with it, with the intent of doing this a few times and like I said, translating back to starting.

The current situation for Bard is still a work in process, with the next steps not entirely known.

I dont know, Beyeler said. I would assume hes going to throw another inning or two, probably Thursday (the PawSox have an off-day Wednesday). I would assume that but that hasnt been verified or passed along. That was kind of the plan going along the last weve heard.

Buckner took the loss, falling to 0-1 with an ERA of 11.42. He went 4 23 innings, giving up seven runs on nine hits and three walks with one strikeout and three home runs.

The PawSox outhit the Braves, 15-14. Every PawSox batter in the starting lineup had at least one hit except second baseman Tony Thomas.

Lars Anderson went 3-for-4 with three runs, scored, three RBI, one walk, a double, and a home run, falling a triple shy of the cycle. The solo shot in the eighth was his eighth home run of the season.

Alex Hassan went 3-for-5 with two RBI.

Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers

pat-neshek-mike-minor-112217.jpg

Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers

BOSTON — There is a world outside of Giancarlo Stanton. 

Stanton, at this point, simply doesn’t appear likely to end up in Boston. That should feel obvious to those following along, and so should this: it can change. 

But there are other pursuits. Besides their search for a bat or two, the Red Sox have been actively pursuing left-handed relief options. Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is a fast mover, but this year’s market has not been.

MORE RED SOX:

Robbie Ross Jr. and Fernando Abad are both free agents, leaving Robby Scott as the lone incumbent southpaw from last season's primary group. Brian Johnson is bound for the pen, with Roenis Elias as a depth option too.  Still, even if Johnson’s transition pans out, the Sox still have an opening for a late-inning reliever with the departure of free agent Addison Reed. 

Reed is a righty, but between Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, Heath Hembree, Carson Smith, and Craig Kimbrel, the Sox have more right-handed choices than left. Coming back from surgery, Tyler Thornburg, should be in the mix eventually too, but it's difficult to expect too much from him.

What the Red Sox should do: sign one of each for the bullpen, one righty, and one lefty. And then trade a righty or two. Turn some of that mishmash into an addition elsewhere. Be creative. 

Because inevitably, come midseason, the Sox will want to add another bullpen arm if they sign just one now. Why wait until you have to give up prospect capital when you can just add the piece you want now?

Go get a near-sure thing such as Pat Neshek, a veteran who walks no one and still strikeouts a bunch. At 37 with an outgoing personality, Neshek also brings leadership to a team that is looking for some. He walked just six guys in 62 innings last season. Entering his 12th season in the majors, he’s looking for his first ring.

All these top of the market relievers may be handsomely paid. But relievers are still something of a bargain compared to position players and starting pitchers. One of the key words for this winter should be creativity. If there’s value to be had in the reliever market, capitalize on it. 

Comeback kid Mike Minor, Jake McGee and Tony Watson headline the crop of free agent lefties available. Brad Hand of the Padres could also be had by trade but his market isn’t moving too quickly (and he won’t come cheaply).

Minor, 29, who posted a 2.55 ERA in 2017 after health issues kept him out of the majors in 2015-16, is expected to be paid handsomely. He is also open to the idea of potentially starting if a team is interested in him doing so. The Royals reportedly could give him that shot.

McGee’s American League East experience could be appealing.

He's 31 and had a 3.61 ERA with the Rockies in 2017 and has a 3.15 ERA lifetime. He’s not quite the strikeout pitcher he was earlier in his career — he had an 11.6 K/9 in 2015 — but a 9.1 K/9 is still very strong, particularly when coupled with just 0.6 homers allowed per nine.

For what it’s worth: McGee has also dominated the Red Sox, who have a .125 average, .190 on-base percentage and .192 slugging against him in 117 regular-season plate appearances. 

McGee throws a mid-90s fastball with a low-80s slider. He can operate up in the zone, and he actually has been even more effective against righties than lefties in his career, including in 2017. McGee’s been a closer, too, with 44 career saves.

The Sox had the second-best bullpen in the majors by ERA in 2017, at 3.07. Yet, come the postseason, there wasn’t a sense of great confidence or even a clear shape to the pecking order behind one of the absolute best relievers in the game, Kimbrel. 

HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall

cincinnati-reds-joe-morgan-hall-of-fame.jpg

HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall

Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan is urging voters to keep “known steroid users” out of Cooperstown.

A day after the Hall revealed its 33-man ballot for the 2018 class, the 74-year-old Morgan argued against the inclusion of players implicated during baseball’s steroid era in a letter to voters with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The letter from the vice chairman of the Hall’s board of directors was sent Tuesday using a Hall email address.

Read the full text of Morgan's letter here. 

“Steroid users don’t belong here,” Morgan wrote. “What they did shouldn’t be accepted. Times shouldn’t change for the worse.”

Hall voters have been wrestling with the issue of performance-enhancing drugs for several years. Baseball held a survey drug test in 2003 and the sport began testing for banned steroids the following year with penalties. Accusations connected to some of the candidates for the Hall vary in strength from allegations with no evidence to positive tests that caused suspensions.

About 430 ballots are being sent to voters, who must have been members of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years, and a player needs at least 75 percent for election. Ballots are due by Dec. 31 and results will be announced Jan. 24.

Writers who had not been covering the game for more than a decade were eliminated from the rolls in 2015, creating a younger electorate that has shown more willingness to vote for players tainted by accusations of steroid use. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens each received a majority of votes for the first time in 2017 in their fifth year on the ballot.

Morgan said he isn’t speaking for every Hall of Famer, but many of them feel the same way that he does.

“Players who failed drug tests, admitted using steroids, or were identified as users in Major League Baseball’s investigation into steroid abuse, known as the Mitchell Report, should not get in,” Morgan wrote. “Those are the three criteria that many of the players and I think are right.”

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were inducted into the Hall of Fame in July. They were joined by former Commissioner Bud Selig and retired Kansas City and Atlanta executive John Schuerholz, who were voted in by a veterans committee.

Some baseball writers said the election of Selig, who presided over the steroids era, influenced their view of whether tainted stars should gain entry to the Hall.

Morgan praised BBWAA voters and acknowledged they are facing a “tricky issue,” but he also warned some Hall of Famers might not make the trip to Cooperstown if steroid users are elected.

“The cheating that tainted an era now risks tainting the Hall of Fame too,” he wrote. “The Hall of Fame means too much to us to ever see that happen. If steroid users get in, it will divide and diminish the Hall, something we couldn’t bear.”

© 2017 by The Associated Press