Red Sox

Cherington: We're not who we want to be

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Cherington: We're not who we want to be

BOSTON At 5 p.m. Saturday afternoon, nearly 24 hours after word first began to emerge, the Red Sox officially announced their blockbuster trade with the Dodgers, sending right-hander Josh Beckett, left fielder Carl Crawford, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, and utility infielder Nick Punto to Los Angeles in exchange for first baseman James Loney, infielder Ivan DeJesus, Jr., right-hander Allen Webster, and two players to be named later (believed to be right-hander Rubby De La Rosa and outfielderfirst baseman Jerry Sands).

The reason for the trade was simple to the Red Sox, who go into Saturday nights game against the Royals with a record of 60-66, in fourth place in the American League East, despite a payroll of 175 million.

I think we recognized that we are not who we want to be right now, said general manager Ben Cherington. Its been a large enough sample performance going back to last year that we felt like in order to be the team we want to be on the field we needed to make more than cosmetic changes. So as we looked forward to this offseason we felt like the opportunity to build the team that we need, that the fans deserve, that we want, required more of a bold move to give us an opportunity to really reshape the roster, reshape the team.

And while it was a difficult thing to do, to trade away four players like this, guys that, Beckett in particular that have been here for a long time and been part of our best times here, been on the mound for big games. Gonzalez and Crawford both obviously key acquisitions two offseasons ago and Punto a great teammate, utility player. So we gave up a lot of talent, good guys. Excited about the talent we got coming back and excited about the opportunity this gives us to build the next great Red Sox team.

The deal had been formulating most of the season, Cherington said, but really began to take shape leading up to the July 31 trading deadline.

We talked to the Dodgers all year it seems back to earlier in the year, Cherington said. I had talked to Dodgers GM Ned Coletti about Kevin Youkilis. So weve had consistent dialogue all year and at certain points that dialogue picked up. We talked quite a bit before the deadline. Didn't agree on anything at that time.

But when you talk that much you share ideas, you get to know a little bit more about what their motivation is and what theyre trying to do, and you share ideas. There were conversations at the ownership level also and over time and then recently earlier this week those conversations kind of jelled into a more sort of firm concepts in talking about what a trade might look like. So we were able to pull it off. There wasnt any one moment. It was a process that started earlier in the year and involved a lot of conversation and ideas going back and forth and ultimately led to this.

The deal gives the Sox two things they have been sorely lacking in recent seasons payroll and roster flexibility as they were hamstrung by several long-term, big-money contracts. With the Dodgers assuming all but about 12 million owed to the four players, the Sox have approximately 260 million coming off the books, money they can use going forward.

Weve looked, as we always would this time of year, weve started to look at opportunities in the offseason, Cherington said. I think the key is we are absolutely committed to building the best team that we can in 2013 and beyond and were going to do that in the most disciplined way possible. When weve been at our best weve made good decisions, disciplined decisions, found value, whether in the free agency market, trade market. Thats our job to do that. We have a core of players here still, a very talented core of players still that will be a part of our next great team and well do whatever we can to put together the best team for 2013.

It was the lack of disciplined decisions Cherington mentioned that had become an albatross for the organization.

The decisions weve made that got us to this point in aggregate I think its fair to say didnt work, Cherington said. We have to acknowledge that. We have to be honest about the fact that what we have been over the last few months of major league play is not what we want to be and theres not one decision that led to that. Its just a combination of things, different reasons. Some of them had nothing to do with personnel decisions. There are other things that are involved. Injuries are factored. etc. My point is going forward we have created flexibility for us with this deal and well take advantage of that opportunity best if we are disciplined and aggressive at the right time on the right deals for the right players.

The trade also creates several holes for the Sox, too, though. Just one player, Loney, will be joining the major league team. Loney can be a free agent at the end of the season. Additionally, the Sox have several other needs they will have to address in the offseason for 2013 and beyond.

Fans can expect us to work our tails off to put the best team together going forward starting this offseason and for 2013, Cherington said. We have to be disciplined in the way we do that. We can't go out tomorrow or the next day and fill up the payroll flexibility we just created. So that'll happen. Theres a clear commitment from ownership here. We are going to continue to have a significant payroll. Were going to continue to spend money on players and were going to be committed to building the bests team we possibly can. Its up to us to make good decisions, make disciplined decisions and thats, I think, in the past thats whats led to our best teams. I dont remember in 2004 and 2007 people talking as much about what the size of the payroll was. Just talked about how good the team was.

But, with Gonzalez and Crawford lasting less than two years in Boston despite long-term deals, will it be more difficult for the Sox to attract players going forward?

It is something we considered, Cherington said. I feel like if we are who we want to be on the field, off the field, we will be a great place for players to be and I think this ownership group knows more than most how quickly things can change. At the end of 2001 it wasnt a great time in the Red Sox organization and it wasnt a few months later where everyone wanted to be in Boston. We get back to being the team we want to be and players are going to want to be here. This is a great place to play. The highs are really high when things are going well and when theyre not it can be tough. Thats why its so important for us to get back to where we want to be and then the highs will be really high again.

The trade could also impact the culture of the clubhouse, which had been varying degrees of sour over the past calendar year, from the September 2011 collapse to on-going instances this season.

The culture will feel better when we start winning more games, Cherington said. This was about creating an opportunity to build a better team moving forward. It was not a trade that was made to try to fix a cultural problem. It was about opportunity, giving us opportunity moving forward and the culture will feel very good when we do the things that have made us good over time, the things that help us win games. So when we do those things the culture will feel good.

MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

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MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.

Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young

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Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young

Max Scherzer heard his name and thrust his arms in the air, shouting and smiling big before turning to kiss his wife.

Corey Kluber, on the other hand, gulped once and blinked.

Two aces, two different styles - and now another Cy Young Award for each.

The animated Scherzer of the Washington Nationals coasted to his third Cy Young, winning Wednesday for the second straight year in the National League. He breezed past Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, drawing 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Kluber's win was even more of a runaway. The Cleveland Indians ace took 28 first-place votes, easily outpacing Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox for his second AL Cy Young.

Scherzer yelled "yes!" when his award was announced on MLB Network, a reaction in keeping with his expressive reputation. He showed that intensity often this year, whether he was cursing under his breath like a madman during his delivery or demanding - also with expletives - that manager Dusty Baker leave him in the game.

Just a little different than the pitcher they call "Klubot." Kluber was stoic as ever when announced as the AL winner. He swallowed hard but otherwise didn't react, only showing the hint of a smile moments later when answering questions.

Not that he wasn't thrilled.

"Winning a second one maybe, for me personally, kind of validates the first one," Kluber said.

Scherzer's win moves him into rare company. He's the 10th pitcher with at least three Cy Youngs, and among the other nine, only Kershaw and Roger Clemens aren't in the Hall of Fame.

"That's why I'm drinking a lot of champagne tonight," Scherzer said.

Scherzer earned the NL honor last year with Washington and the 2013 American League prize with Detroit.

"This one is special," he said. "When you start talking about winning three times, I can't even comprehend it at this point."

Scherzer was 16-6 with a career-best 2.51 ERA this year. The 33-year-old righty struck out a league-leading 268 for the NL East champion Nationals, and in an era noted for declining pitcher durability, he eclipsed 200 innings for the fifth straight season. He had to overcome a variety of ailments to get there, and Washington's training staff was high on his thank-you list.

"Everybody had a role in keeping me out on the field," he said. "I'm very thankful for all their hard work."

Kershaw has won three NL Cy Youngs and was the last pitcher to win back-to-back. He was 18-4 with a league-best 2.31 ERA and 202 strikeouts. This is his second runner-up finish. Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals finished third.

Kluber missed a month of the season with back pain and still easily won the AL award over Sale and third-place finisher Luis Severino of the New York Yankees. Kluber led the majors with a 2.25 ERA, and his 18 wins tied for the most in baseball. He added to the Cy Young he won with the Indians in 2014 and is the 19th pitcher to win multiple times.

The 31-year-old Kluber was especially dominant down the stretch, closing out the season by going 11-1 to help Cleveland win the AL Central. He and Minnesota's Ervin Santana tied for the major league lead with five complete games - nobody else had more than two. Kluber also led the majors with 8.0 wins above replacement, per baseball-reference.com.

Kluber and Scherzer both had rough outings in the playoffs. Kluber gave up nine runs over two starts in an AL Division Series against the Yankees, and Scherzer blew a save in the decisive Game 5 of an NL Division Series against the Cubs.

Scherzer said he couldn't even watch the League Championship Series, although he did tune in for the World Series.

"That will eat at me this whole offseason," he said.

Voting for the awards was completed before the postseason began.

The final BBWAA honors will come Thursday when the MVP awards are announced in the AL and NL.

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