Red Sox

Gonzalez, Ortiz, Beckett, Ellsbury are All-Stars

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Gonzalez, Ortiz, Beckett, Ellsbury are All-Stars

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox InsiderFollow @sean_mcadam
HOUSTON -- Four Red Sox players -- two voted by the fans, two chosen by players -- will represent the club at the All-Star Game July 12 in Phoenix.

First baseman Adrian Gonzalez and DH David Ortiz were voted by fans, with starter Josh Beckett and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury added as part of the players' voting process.

Ellsbury's selection is his first. Ortiz will be making his seventh appearance, with Beckett going for the third time and Gonzalez the fourth.

This marks the seventh straight year that the Red Sox have sent at least four players to the game.

"I thought we'd have more,'' said manager Terry Francona.

Jon Lester, with 10 wins, was the most notable Red Sox omission.

"Representing the Red Sox once again is an honor,'' said Ortiz who will making his fifth start as an All-Star. "It's fun (to take part in). It's something the fans really enjoy. Those few days, you really get worn out, but it's worth it because the fans put a lot of enthusiasm into it.''

"I can't really put into words how I feel right now,'' said Ellsbury, "but I'm definitely excited. It's an honor to be elected to be your peers, to get rewarded for your accomplishments on the field. I knew it was a possibility. It's exciting. I'm looking forward to it.''

Ellsbury, who missed all but 18 games last season with broken ribs, said he was particularly gratified that the work he put into getting back on the field has paid off.

"He came hungry this year,'' said Ortiz of Ellsbury. "He's a guy who cares about doing good and helping the ballclub. Watching him go to his first All-Star game, I'm proud of him and hopefully, we'll see another
10, 12 more (trips).''

"To get back, like I have this year, is very special,'' Ellsbury said.

"It would have been very special any time you're elected to an All-Star game, but to be elected by your peers is very special.''

"I'm really happy for Ells,'' said Francona. "I think this kind of means a lot to him; (it says that) he's kind of arrived. He's been playing like he wants to show people how good he is.''

"It's always good (to be chosen),'' said Gonzalez. "It's great to make an All-Star game. It's nice to be able to represent the Red Sox.''

Gonzalez, who led the majors in RBI (74), total bases (200) and extra-base hits (46), will be starting the game for the first time.

"That will be fun,'' he said. "You get to get a few extra at-bats and enjoy it as the the rest of the guys finish up the game.''

A number of other Red Sox players were thought to be under consideration, including third baseman Kevin Youkilis (tied for sixth in the A.L. in RBI), second baseman Dustin Pedroia (seventh in OBP) and Lester, who has 10 wins, second-most in the league.

"Obviously, it's a honor to be a part of it,'' said Lester, "but it's also nice to get the down time sometimes. Is it nice to go? Yeah. Is it disappointing not to go? Yes. But at the same time, like I said, it's nice to get a break.''

"We're a team full of talent,'' said Gonzalez. "We had a few guys who made it and a few guys who deserved to. You experience this with every team -- there's always guys that should have made it than didn't. A team like this where you have not just a few but plenty of guys who should be in it, that's just the way the game is.''

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

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. 

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

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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