Red Sox

Buck Showalter's talk of pulling Manny Machado silly

Buck Showalter's talk of pulling Manny Machado silly

At a certain point, one wonders if Buck Showalter believes his own drivel. He’s very entertaining, but not exactly convincing.

Assuming that Commissioner Rob Manfred’s words were heeded in a conference call Wednesday with both clubs, the Red Sox-Orioles plunking war should now be over.

Showalter on Wednesday, then, was armed with only his tongue. It may still be sharp, but doesn’t cut as deep as it probably once did.

The O’s skipper said he was going to pull Manny Machado — his best player — in the first inning Tuesday, because he feared the umpires would not protect Machado. Because Showalter did not know what was in the Red Sox’ hearts. And because if Machado wound up suspended if something else happened, the Red Sox would win.

“I took Manny down the runway there after the first inning ‘cause I was leaning toward taking him out of the game ‘cause it was obvious, didn’t seem like he was going to be protected by the umpires in that situation and didn’t trust them not to do it again, so I had a good long talk with him,” Showalter said. “Because you know if he gets thrown out of the game, or does something that gets suspended then they win. I just didn’t want that to happen.”

What protection, exactly, did Showalter want to see after Chris Sale threw behind Machado?

Home-plate umpire D.J. Reyburn issued a warning to each team. Any further action would have resulted in an ejection and suspension. Probably a big suspension, too.

If Sale’s ejected, what does that do? Did Showalter believe that Sale, the Sox’ best pitcher, would come back for more after the warning — the ejection and suspension be damned? 

That’d be incredibly stupid of Sale. But fine, let’s say Showalter thought that.

How far does the conspiracy run?

Is Sale the only Sox pitcher who would take another shot once the warning was issued? What about the reliever that replaced Sale?

Might as well pull the whole team off the field. Or is Machado the only player the bloodthirsty Red Sox would target?

Showalter should always have his players’ safety paramount. Surely, he does. But this is just silly.

It’s one thing to calm down Machado, who, clearly, has a temper. But if you’re pulling a player out of a game because he can’t control himself, that would be an issue that runs beyond the Sox. 

Machado has actually shown a lot of restraint and discipline, his postgame interview Tuesday aside.

If Showalter wants retaliatory pitches banned, he should say that. That’s not what he’s saying.

Nevermind that a livid Machado talked Tuesday about how he could take a bat to the mound. Showalter didn’t spend any time condemning that tirade, and why would he? Machado’s his star.

But it’s hard to take Showalter seriously about safety when he’s talking about pulling one of the best players in baseball once warnings have been issued — and doesn't have any problem with Machado mentioning he could use his bat to "crush" someone.

“I didn’t trust what was going on on the field by the other people,” Showalter said. “I can’t see or read their heart.”

No, Buck, you can’t. But everyone can see through this tack.

Red Sox, Yankees working to play in London in 2019

Red Sox, Yankees working to play in London in 2019

Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge are about to go global.

Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy on Monday confirmed the Sox are interested to play the Yankees in London during next year's regular season. Bloomberg reported the clubs are nearing an agreement to play two games there in June 2019. Discussions are indeed taking place, but a deal is not done.

MORE - Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

“We would love to participate in a series in London against the Yankees but this is a decision that MLB and the MLBPA will make," Sox CEO Sam Kennedy said.

Bloomberg reported the games would be played at London Stadium, which was the main facility for the 2012 summer Olympics.

MLB has not played any games in Europe before. The Red Sox have made trips before, including to Japan before the 2008 season.


Red Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

Red Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

Blake Swihart’s strong spring seems to have the Red Sox more inclined to deal one of their natural utility infielders, such as Brock Holt or Deven Marrero, rather than Swihart, a converted catcher with high upside who's getting a look in other roles.
"Sounds like they’re holding Swihart to open," a rival executive said. "More likely to move a utility guy."
A true utility guy, that is.


The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reported Sunday that Marrero has been drawing interest from other teams.

"We do have depth with our middle infielders," Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Monday. "However, [I] would not get into potential trade discussions."
Swihart, who turns 26 on April 3, is most valuable as a catcher. But he could still be useful in a bench role for the 2018 Red Sox, and a win-now mentality may be the driving force here. (It is possible, as well, that there is nothing available via trade for Swihart that has piqued the Sox’ interest. Marrero or Holt wouldn’t require as much in return.)
The potential drawback is that Swihart won’t grow much if he’s not playing every day -- and in particular, if he's not catching every day. But the Sox may be be at a juncture where they feel his bat is a worthwhile experiment off the bench, at least for this season. They can figure out his future -- and their future at backstop -- later.
"He’s a great athlete," Cora told reporters on Sunday. "We’ve seen it in the batter’s box. It’s not only the results, but the way he’s driving the ball to left field as a left-hander, the quality of at-bats as a right-hander. [On Saturday], as a pinch-hitter, that kid was throwing 99 and he throws a breaking ball and squares a ball up."
Swihart entered Monday with a .283 average in Grapefruit League play, with a .905 OPS and a pair of home runs. But he does not have the infield experience that Marrero or Holt has, and the Red Sox essentially have to carry one of those two to start the year. 
Eduardo Nunez, the temporary replacement for Dustin Pedroia, is coming off a knee injury, and a sure-handed infielder -- Marrero’s glove is particularly good -- is a must. Rafael Devers is still coming into his own at third base. 
Tzu-Wei Lin is available in the minors too, and the Sox could see some redundancy with him, Holt and Marrero. Lin, unlike Marrero, has minor league options remaining. Lin also has some limited outfield experience.
The way the Sox roster looks now, they have two spots available for the three guys: Marrero, Holt and Swihart. Health can change that. Holt, despite being the most veteran of the group, has minor league options remaining, so he theoretically could go to Triple-A to start the season. But if the Sox don't see a role for him on this year's team any way, they'd be wiser trading him, considering he's due to make $2.225 million. It also would be the kindest choice for Holt, to let him have an opportunity elsewhere, if one exists.


Swihart has played first base, third base and left field in addition to catching this spring. Perhaps, in time, there will be a way to work Swihart in behind the plate for the Sox. At the least, retaining him would be insurance if Christian Vazquez or Sandy Leon do not perform well offensively.
There was a clear personal-catcher system for the Red Sox in 2017. Leon was Chris Sale’s guy, for example. Manager Alex Cora said he is not taking that approach. As an auxiliary effect, moving away from a personal-catcher system might make it easier for Swihart to receive more time behind the plate, if called on.
"Whoever I feel comfortable with that day behind the plate, he'll catch," Cora told reporters in Florida. "Christian already caught him. Sandy's going to catch him today. And then the next turn, Christian's going to catch him. Everybody's going to work with everybody."