Red Sox

McAdam: Sox looking for arms in depleted market

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McAdam: Sox looking for arms in depleted market

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
It says everything about the quality of available starting pitchers on the trade market that the two names most closely linked to the Red Sox in the last few days are Rich Harden and Erik Bedard.

As the Red Sox hunt for other options while their own Clay Buchholz (lower back) continues his rehab, they're left contemplating two starters who have had difficulty staying healthy.

The left-handed Bedard (knee) is coming off the disabled list Friday for a start against Tampa Bay which will be monitored by the Red Sox and other pitching-starved clubs. Of course, injuries are nothing new for Bedard, who hasn't pitched more than 90 innings in a single season since 2007 and has totalted just 45 starts over the last 3 12 seasons.

It's much the same with Harden, who has topped the 100-inning plateau only twice since 2005.

Both pitchers may be worth it for the short-term. The Red Sox aren't interested in either as long-term solutions, but rather, the final two months of the season and into the post-season.

The asking price on Bedard, however, is said to be prohibitive. One team calling on Bedard said Tuesday night that the Mariners were asking a "ton'' in return, which signals just how thin the pitching market is, or, at the very least, the Mariners' over-inflated sense of Bedard's worth.

Buchholz's mound session Monday was encouraging, and Wednesday's follow-up will be critical. If Buchholz can continue to make progress without feeling restricted, the Sox can reasonably expect to have him back in the rotation by the end of August.

If his comeback effort were to be slowed, however, the Red Sox desperation for pitching help might be intensified.

Andrew Miller's rough outing Tuesday (seven runs on nine hits in just 3 23 innings) was evidence that the lefty remains a work in progress.

Without Buchholz in the picture, the Sox would need to start both John Lackey and either Miller or Tim Wakefield in an ALCS, when four starters are required.

But upgrades, as they are finding, are not easy to come by. The Sox continue to check in with the Colorado Rockies on Ubaldo Jimenez, but they're behind the Yankees and at least one other National League suitor (Cincinnati?) for the righthander.

The Yankees could package catcher Jesus Montero and at least one other high-end prospect for Jimenez, while the Red Sox inventory of top-level prospects has been thinned by the Adrian Gonzalez deal last December.

(The Yankees' starting rotation need, it should be noted, is greater than that of the Red Sox).

Moreover, the Red Sox continue to ask -- as executives with other teams have wondered -- why Jimenez is on the market at all. At just 27, Jimenez is signed through the end of 2012 with two affordable team options (5.75 million in 2013 and 8 million in 2014), making his availability something of a red flag.

Said one executive recently: "If (the Rockies) are shopping him, that tells me he's either hurt or they think he'll get hurt.''

A Rockies scout was at Fenway Tuesday, indicating that the Red Sox are least somewhat involved on Jimenez. (The Red Sox have a passing interest in Colorado outfielder Ryan Spilborghs, but he would fetch only an average prospect, and not someone off Boston's 25-man roster.)

Meanwhile, the continued standout play of Josh Reddick (1.022 OPS) means the Red Sox' search for an outfielder has been placed on the back burner.

While the likes of Spilborghs and Reed Johnson are still somewhat in play, one baseball source said deals for secondary outfielders are likely to intensify only after trades involving Carlos Beltran and B.J. Upton are made.

The Sox have not inquired on Upton, knowing full well that the Rays won't deal him within the division, especially since he has a contract through the end of next season.

Texas, Atlanta and San Francisco are the teams most involved on Beltran, with the Red Sox lurking in the background -- interested, but only to a point, given the asking price.

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

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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