Red Sox

First Pitch: The latest Sox newsrumorsspeculation

143385.jpg

First Pitch: The latest Sox newsrumorsspeculation

By Art Martone
CSNNE.com

Welcome toFirst Pitch, aquick spin around the world of Major League Baseball . . . or at leastthe corner of it that most concerns the Red Sox.

ONE THING AT A TIME: Noticed that rumors about a replacement for Terry Francona have dried up in the last few days? That may be because, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com, the Red Sox have decided not to interview any candidates until Theo Epstein's status is resolved.

News on that front is non-existent, though analysis and opinion abound. Gerry Callahan's opinion? Epstein is gone. (Boston Herald) This man's opinion? Chicago had best be a destination and not an escape for Theo (csnne.com), since the pressure to turn the Cubs into a winner will be even higher than the pressure he felt here (if that's possible). Speier's analysis? That the Sox can draw on some of the lessons from their unsuccessful pursuit of Billy Beane in 2002 to guide them now.

When all that's done, then we can turn to the manager's chair. And John Smoltz says it won't be easy to fill it with someone as good as Tito. (csnne.com)

AND AFTER THAT . . . There are player issues to resolve, such as what to do with Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek. (Boston Globe) Bill Chuck of Nation STATion knows what he'd do. (csnne.com) Hint: Think gold watches and retirement parties.

AND AFTER THAT . . . Focus will turn to improving the team on the field. And more and more, it's look like there'll be a left-handed ace -- CC Sabathia -- available on the free-agent market. (New York Post) But unlike 2007, when they were faced with a similar situation with Alex Rodriguez and said they were ready to let A-Rod walk, the Yankees aren't setting any artificial deadlines with Sabathia. (New York Daily News)

THEY'LL NEED IT: The free-agenttrade market may be the only place the Red Sox will find help this offseason, because it was a barren year down on the farms. (Providence Journal)

WE'LL BE WAITING: When asked if 2012 will be his last season, Mariano Rivera told the New York Post: "I will let you know".

NOW I CAN SLEEP AGAIN: Looks like Derek Jeter's romance with Minka Kelly is back on. (msn.foxsports.com)

IT'S COMING: Bud Selig isn't sure the baseball postseason will expand to 10 teams in 2012, but he sure sounds like it will eventually. (cbssports.com)

WHAT I MEANT TO SAY WAS . . . Stuart Sternberg does a little fence-mending (St. Petersburg Times) with the Rays' fans . . . all 35 of them. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

AND FINALLY . . . Surprised at the Sox' sudden September implosion? So was Jonathan Papelbon. (weei.com)

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

mlb_rob_manfred_081414.jpg

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

cy_young_corey_kluber_chris_sale_111517.jpg

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.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE