Red Sox

Buchholz: Collapse 'most unbelievable thing' he's seen

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Buchholz: Collapse 'most unbelievable thing' he's seen

Count Clay Buchholz among those Red Sox who have apologized for drinking in the clubhouse but think the story is being blown out of proportion.

Buchholz joined the Mut and Merloni program on WEEI Thursday to discuss his team's September collapse, as well as the not-so-complimentary reports now surfacing about him and his teammates.

"Yeah, it did happen," said Buchholz about the drinking in the clubhouse. "It wasn't to the extent that it's being told right now. The whole chicken thing, it wasn't like the guys were sitting in there saying 'We're going to order chicken today.' It was, we'd come upstairs, there would be chicken on the table and it happened maybe three times this season. The whole beer thing, it was more of a rally-beer thing.

"And yeah, it might not have been right, but I feel like there have been other teams in baseball that have gone through stuff like that. Not to say it wasn't a big deal, because it was a mistake, grown men shouldn't be making those decisions like that during a baseball game, but like I said before, you've got to live with what you've done and learn from it. I'm sure it's not going to happen again because it's a lot bigger right now than everybody ever thought it would be."

When asked if he had ever seen beer in the dugout, Buchholz responded, "No. Never. Never."

Buchholz called the team's collapse "the most unbelievable thing I've ever seen." In fact, he's still not quite sure how it happened. He said the entire team expected to just show up and win every night.

"I just think the big problem this year was everybody on the team knew how good we were on paper, the best in baseball in the last 10 years or whatever," Buchholz said. "Even me, in September I'd say 'My God, how are we losing these games?' We expected to go out on the field and win. It wasn't happening and no one knew what to do."

"Shock" was the word Buchholz used to describe how it felt to see Terry Francona go, and he hopes there aren't too many changes to the team's pitching staff next season. He praised Josh Beckett, a player he looks up to, as being the team's best pitcher.

"If anything, I think Josh Beckett was different in a good way this year," Buchholz said. "He's one of the guys that I've always looked up to regardless of the situation was, he's got that killer mentality of going out and winning a game . . . He's one of the hardest workers. I mean, I'm not saying this because he's my teammate and I'm trying to cover anybody's butt, but he was in the clubhouse everyday early, got his work done, ran and did all his stuff. He was the best pitcher on our team this year. I didn't see anything different from Beckett."

But what about Beckett's visible weight-gain, Clay?

"Gaining weight is gaining weight," Buchholz said. "You still have to go out there and perform. That's just the way it is. If this game were easy, there would be more than 750 guys out there doing it. He still went out there and did his job, gave us a chance to win a game every time he went out there. That's all you can ask for from a starting pitcher."

Buchholz also said he thinks John Lackey can turn things around after his poor season.

"I hope he's back," Buchholz said. "I think he's gonna turn it around. I think he was pitching with a lot of stuff. He was hurting a bit, there was some stuff internally with him and everybody else."

The pitching staff's demise was seen by many as the team's reason for falling apart, but now, even though pitching coach Curt Young is rumored to be headed back to Oakland, Buchholz wouldn't throw Young under the bus. He did intimate that it was a much different environment with Young around compared to when John Farrell was in Boston as the pitching coach.

"It was a different personality," Buchholz said of Young. "Curt's a really laid back guy. I have nothing bad to say about Curt. He talked to me about whatever I needed to talk about. Curt is laid back. John, with John it was, I don't wanna talk to him unless I have to because I'm scared of him.

"John was more of an intense guy, a straight shooter," Buchholz added. "I dont think anybody took advantage of Young. They were two different coaches. Hard to compare guys that are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum . . . Everyone knew what their job was as starters. no one was gonna go out there and say 'Wow, I'm not gonna win this game.' Everybody knows what their job is, one person coming in isn't going to make you change how you're doing your job."

Despite the reports and despite the perceived disconnect in the Red Sox clubhouse, Buchholz thinks the Red Sox will be fine when they return for spring training in 2012.

"On paper this team is really good," he said. "We just gotta get our priorities right and move forward. This is one of the best teams in baseball regardless of what happens . . . Everyone's going to come into camp a little bit more ready to do what we need to do."

Red Sox can be thankful for a successful past and a bright future

Red Sox can be thankful for a successful past and a bright future

For the glass-is-half-full folks, there are those back-to-back Eastern Division titles. For the glass-is-half-empty folks, well, there are those two first-round playoff ousters (though both their conquerers made it to the World Series, and one of them won it). But, here on Thanksgiving night, there's plenty for Red Sox Nation to be thankful for, starting with . . . 


YOUR GOOD HEALTH

We know you don’t need the Red Sox to know you how important the most basic elements of life are. But sometimes, the typical fantasy land of baseball can grab our attention. The death of 17-year-old Sox prospect Daniel Flores (above) this month from complications because of cancer didn’t take away only a potentially great baseball career. It took away a beloved, hard-working young person from the people who loved him. He had just made millions of dollars in July for his talent on the field, but what does such a windfall matter compared to one’s health? His cancer was both rare and fast-moving, per the Boston Globe.

MOOKIE, JACKIE, XANDER, BENINTENDI, DEVERS

The kids deserve some love. They probably won’t be together on the Red Sox forever. Heck, the group could get broken up this winter. But while any of the Killer B’s (plus a D) remain on the Sox, there should be a sense of optimism. Two straight 93-win seasons may have resulted in a first-round exit, and 2017 didn’t meet expectations for some individual performances. But you know what? The youths are still damn good, and there’s time for them to show us they can be even better.

INSANELY GOOD PITCHERS IN CHRIS SALE AND CRAIG KIMBREL

Neither hogs the spotlight once the game ends or says too much. Sale doesn’t even have Twitter. But the righty closer and lefty starter both do two things exceedingly well: make batters swing and miss, and prevent runs. When both pitch, your seat at the park may well be worth the price of admission. (But we won’t ask what you paid for those seats.) Sale didn’t take down Pedro Martinez’s Sox single-season strikeout record this year, finishing with five fewer than Martinez’s 313 in 1999. But he could have done it. And with a little more rest next year, one can envision him plowing his way through playoff opponents too.

ALEX CORA'S NEW DIRECTION

A first-time manager’s not a sure thing, but as Sox owner John Henry noted, there was a feeling it was time for a change. It’s a little early to be thinking ahead to a New Year’s resolution, but a manager who better connects with his players and brings a different vibe to the day-to-day scene is reason to feel the Sox are following the right road map. Plus, if nothing else, Cora took that awesome picture walking toward Fenway.

A CHRISTMAS SHOPPING SPREE MAY BE AROUND THE CORNER

We don’t want to be too materialistic. But Uncle Dave Dombrowski couldn’t let you buy everything you wanted last year. The credit card companies needed him to step back for a year. Now he’s ready to spend. He might not close down Bloomingdale’s for the day for you to do your private shopping, but if you need a couple great jackets to complete your look, it sounds like he’s ready to get you some designer threads. He probably feels there won’t be too many chances to have a moment like this with you, at this stage of your life, and he wants to make the most of it.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

 

Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers

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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.

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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.