Red Sox

Ortiz understands anger, urges patience

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Ortiz understands anger, urges patience

BOSTON David Ortiz gets it. He understands why Red Sox fans are angry, and why some might be wearing brown paper bags over their heads.

I always do, he said of understanding fans ire. Trust me, I always do. Thats why when were playing like this I have problem catching up on my sleep, man, because we got the best fans all the way. All the way around the world we got the best fans.

We got to start playing better. Youre going to see the paper bags as long as we play like expletive. Well start playing better. We have to. We got to figure the way.

Ortiz was involved in a minor car accident around 3:00 on Boylston Street near Fenway Park. His car hit another with a woman and young girl inside, he said. There were no injuries and he had not thought of not playing tonight.

His thoughts are on getting this team righted.

We got to start playing better, he said. Its a long season but Im one of the guys that believes that we got to start winning from the very beginning so you dont have to live with the pressure towards the end of the season.

To me its always time running. Not like youre running out of time but time runs and well catch up.

Asked if he paid attention to the brouhaha caused by Josh Becketts golf outing, Ortiz chalked it up to:

Things that we got to fix on our own. Nobody need to know about it. So players, we got to fix our own things and go about the business and make sure that things are done the right way.

Much of the fans anger recently has been directed at Beckett, who was pounded by the Indians in Thursdays 8-3 loss and played golf two days before he was skipped in a start because of a sore right lat muscle. While Ortiz can understand the fans sentiments, he also feels for his teammates.

Of course, of course, but its going to get better, he said.

Is everyone in the clubhouse on the same page?

It doesnt seem like it but we are, he said. Were going, like I say, were going to try to come out with a better attitude and play the games better.

Which implies that some players dont have the best attitudes.

I think some of the guys are not looking at things positive and trying to do some things different, he said. Its not going to happen from day to night but it happens regardless. Good thing is about the whole situation is we have 130-plus games left and can change things around pretty fast, pretty quick.

Cant control others attitudes. Got to go about the business my best way and I think were going to be alright.

Asked if he is trying to take on more of a leadership role with the retirements of Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek before the season, Ortiz replied:

I always do I just dont show it too much, but I always do what I got to do. I dont do things for people to say that I do it. I do it for the benefit of this organization and the benefit of us, all of us, playing better and winning games.

Ortiz, like many, is perplexed by the teams 12-19 record, especially its 4-11 record at Fenway. The Sox have lost eight of nine in May, and have lost 11 of the last 12 at home since April 16.

Its crazy, he said. Its crazy. I see it and I dont believe it. As long as Ive been here were looking at Fenway like a powerhouse. And everybody just come in and whipping our butts here. So got to do something about it.

Asked if he thought a trade might help shake the team up, Ortiz said:

No, I dont think so. Well be fine.

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