Red Sox

Manfred explains suspension timetable for Gary Sanchez and why Dellin Betances did not get one

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Manfred explains suspension timetable for Gary Sanchez and why Dellin Betances did not get one

BOSTON — Commissioner Rob Manfred on Tuesday gave explanations to suspension-related issues that directly involved the Yankees but tangentially related to the Red Sox.

Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez on Aug. 25 was suspended for four games for throwing punches against the Tigers a day earlier. Sanchez’s appeal hearing was slated for Friday, Sept. 1, when the Red Sox were in town, and no decision was handed down until after the Sox left.

Why didn’t it get done sooner? The timetable at least made it look like MLB preferred not to take Sanchez away from the Yanks for their series against Boston. Manfred said the matter was handled as it normally would be. (A New York Post report noted the impact of Labor Day.)

“The best way for me to answer that question is that the Sanchez appeal, suspension was handled consistent with a process that’s existed for literally decades,” Manfred said. “When a player is suspended for on-field misconduct he has a right to appeal because you can’t give a missed game back to a player the suspension is held in abeyance. The hearings are scheduled as promptly as they can be scheduled, usually within 10 days. It becomes difficult to do that when you have large numbers of suspensions coming out of one incident, particularly the two teams go in different directions. You have one hearing officer, it’s very difficult to get them all done within that 10-day period and you know, often, often these matters are settled before they get to hearings. You know, I see the Sanchez thing as kind of standard operating procedure.”

During the same Aug. 24 incident that got Sanchez suspended, Yankees righty Dellin Betances hit the Tigers’ James McCann in the head. He received no suspension after being ejected from a game that was tied at 6 at the time.

Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes was suspended for four games earlier this season because he threw in the area of Manny Machado’s head, but did not him. The Sox were ahead, and Dustin Pedroia also was caught on camera trying to explain the decision to throw at Machado.

“Look, I don’t make those disciplinary decisions with respect to on field matters,” Manfred said. “My friend and colleague Joe Torre does. I think that that is a wise decision, or excuse me, division of responsibility because I think in order to make good decisions in that area it involves making judgments that you can only make if you have extensive on field experience. And I think without getting into the Barnes situation, I think that the decision with respect to Betances was grounded in the thought that it was not an intentional act.”

Manfred saw some levity in these questions about the Yankees at Fenway Park.

“It’s interesting, I’ve rarely had this level of interest in an on-field incident that doesn’t involve the club where I am,” he said. “It’s truly astounding. But — yeah, I think that’s fair assumption.”

But if a close game means a presumption of innocence, doesn’t that incentivize teams to throw at players in those situations?

“I don’t think that’s a determinative factor,” Manfred said. “There are a number of factors that in general, and I’m not talking about Joe’s decision-making process in this case, I’m talking about in general, over time, with various on-field disciplinarians. They look at things like the pitcher's demeanor, the game situation, did it make sense that they would be trying to throw at somebody given the particular game situation, the player’s history. A variety of things that I think influence that decision. The umpire’s report, you know those umpires are on the ground, they have a pretty good feel for what goes on. Joe has a lot of information that comes from somebody that’s on the ground which I think is extremely valuable.”

Drellich: Dombrowski's messaging on lack of Red Sox moves misses mark

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Drellich: Dombrowski's messaging on lack of Red Sox moves misses mark

In the end, I believe the Red Sox will sign J.D. Martinez. It’s the overwhelmingly obvious move. It’s painfully obvious.

Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reports that the Sox offer is roughly $125 million over five years.

Until that signing — or until that prediction proves wrong — 93 wins is not the hill to die on. 

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We’re not exactly in Dan Duquette more-days-in-first-place territory, but Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is trying to sell something that I’d be surprised to hear anyone is really buying.

“We won 93 games here with basically the team we have coming back and some guys coming back healthy,” Dombrowski said Thursday. “I think some guys will have stronger years. I’ve learned the predictive nature of the game is not something I partake in very much.

“I’ve been with clubs who’ve been the favorites by far and haven’t done quite as well and not the favorites and have done quite well. So you let those things take care of themselves but for our situation, we’ll keep working at it, but I do think we have a good club no matter what.”

Sure. A good club. Everyone knows about the faults of prediction in baseball, how random the game is.

But let’s cut to the chase. Do the Sox have a championship-caliber club? A team built as well as Astros and Yankees? One that’s kept up with those teams this offseason?

The Sox have brought back Mitch Moreland. Addison Reed is gone. The Astros added Gerrit Cole and the Yankees added Giancarlo Stanton.

Now, one may understand why Dombrowski prefers not to partake in the predictive nature of the game. 

Dombrowski mentioned 93 wins earlier this week on MLB Network Radio as well, noting he thinks that figure may have slipped a few minds.

“I think people forget that because of course we got eliminated in the postseason, the first round for us,” Dombrowski said. “But we did win 93 games.” 

That’s nice, Dan — err, Dave.

The protocols of posturing have long been in place in baseball, the code of what executives and agents and any of the rest of them can and cannot say long understood.

Dombrowski is stretching them. 

He’s digging in now on the idea that the Red Sox are good to go if the season starts tomorrow.

“If you told me right now that our starting rotation and our bullpen was going to stay healthy during the season, I’d take our chances right now with our club,” Dombrowski said. “I think that we can stay with anybody.”

Because staying with other teams has always been the goal — not being outright better than them?

Dombrowski said that he hasn’t really looked at the Astros and Yankees rosters because the winter isn't over and that internal rebounds can make up the 40 home run dropoff from 2016 to 2017: “I think quite a bit can be made up.”

Who really believes this? Who really believes the Red Sox could proceed into the season comfortably without some internal improvement? You’re in a market competing with the Patriots, a division with the Yankees and a league with the Astros, and this is what you’re bringing to the table?

And no, Dombrowski's stance isn’t necessary to keep down the cost of adding Martinez.

We can suppose that if Dombrowski were to look into the camera, tear up and plead with Martinez to join the Red Sox, it may be an abnormal amount of leverage shifted to Martinez and agent Scott Boras. 

Even then, reality wouldn’t change. No one is confused by reality here. Dombrowski prefers not to publicly acknowledge it — anymore.

“You know, it's easy to say, we need to score more runs,” Dombrowski said on Oct. 11, the day of John Farrell’s dismissal. “I didn't supply the players that would give us enough runs. I think we do need that. That's part of our offseason goal.”

We assume negotiations to be ongoing. Dombrowski declined to characterize the frequency of conversation he is having with any players/agents (a bizarre thing to decline to discuss, considering how general a subject it is) although he said there are standing offers out there.

The Red Sox' position has long been clear, long been obvious. Dombrowski pretending everything is good to go because the team won 93 games last season misses the mark, even within the accepted constraints of posturing and hooey.

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Pedroia cleared to start running, progressing well

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Pedroia cleared to start running, progressing well

Dustin Pedroia has been cleared to run following October surgery on his right knee.

“It’s been pretty much what they thought it would be,” Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Thursday. “This is always the time they had told me. So you start running at this point, but that’s just running. So you’re not cutting, you’re not doing all things. We still have two and a half months until opening day. 

“I cant say he would never be ready, but we’re not pushing him for that. I think it’s more important he follows step by step. So you run, then cut, then you pick up the pace. But he’s made very positive strides. But that’s why he’s not going to be there this weekend, with the big crowds and all the treatment he has it’s probably not good for him in case someone would run into him accidentally. But he’s making good strides.”

Pedroia told WEEI this month that he’s eyeing Opening Day. Dombrowski said at Alex Cora’s introductory press conference in November that the Red Sox were targeting May. 

“We think Pedey is going to be back in May at some point right now if you listen to what the doctor has to say," Dombrowski said.

  • Dombrowski expects Mookie Betts and the Sox will wind up at a hearing, as assistant general manager Brian O’Halloran also said. The team made clear that if filing numbers were exchanged, a hearing would follow. That’s called a “file and go” approach, or “file and trial” or “file to go.” The Sox don’t employ the approach universally — they exchanged numbers with Drew Pomeranz before settling last year — but it is the approach they’re taking with Betts. A panel of arbitrators will decide if he makes $10.5 million, as Betts filed for, or $7.5 million, as the Red Sox filed for (barring an unexpected settlement before then).

 

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