Red Sox

Time is now for Middlebrooks

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Time is now for Middlebrooks

"If Youk returns in a week and is ready to go, he plays third base. He's been here. It's great that Will has come up and done a good job and we like him a lot and he's a big part of our future. But Youk's on the DL and he didn't lose his job because he got hurt." Ben Cherington

One of the crazier and most unfortunate aspects of following this Red Sox team is that you never know who or what to believe. For instance, the fact Ben Cherington presented this ridiculous argument to Sean McAdam, doesn't mean that it's actually Cherington's opinion.

This is the same guy who stood before us last December and swore up and down that he was 100 percent behind the hiring of Bobby Valentine, when we knew all along that he wanted Dale Sveum. At that moment, Cherington proved that he had no problem playing Larry Lucchino's game, and was content to carry the GM title, even if it didn't come with the typical GM authority. And for a guy in Cherington's position, I can't say I blame him.

Who's going to turn down a chance to be the GM of the Red Sox?

Still, it was obvious very early that while Cherington was the face of the front office, there were others and one especially slimy other pulling the strings. So, when he makes a statement like the one above, it's only and always fair to wonder:

Who's really behind all this?

I say this because, deep down, I don't want to believe that Ben Cherington actually thinks that the Red Sox owe anything to Kevin Youkilis. That given everything that's gone on with this team, that Cherington could possibly think that blindly handing the starting third baseman's job back to Youk is anything but idiotic.

I want to believe that when Cherington provided this quote, he was tied up and blind-folded to a pole in Larry Lucchino's basement, as LL squealed in the background: "You tell them what's going on, Cherington. I just ordered 15,000 Youuuuuk t-shirts for the pro shop, and hell if I'm not turning a profit!"

Is there another plausible explanation?

Will Middlebrooks represents everything this team needs. Youkilis is everything they need to get away from. That's not very hard to see.

Now I can understand if we're having this conversation in the middle of July, and Middlebrooks has since comeback to Earth and clearly a little green for the MLB game. At that point, sure, give Youk another try. But to just pull the plug on Middlebrooks before seeing it through?

That's insane.

But that's the Red Sox.

We have no clue who's making the decisions, but they never cease to disappoint.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Astros beat Yankees in Game 7 to advance to World Series, 4-0

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Astros beat Yankees in Game 7 to advance to World Series, 4-0

HOUSTON - Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers combined on a three-hitter, Jose Altuve and Evan Gattis homered and the Houston Astros reached the World Series, blanking the New York Yankees 4-0 Saturday night in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Just four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, the Astros shut down the Yankees for two straight games after dropping three in a row in the Bronx.

Next up for the Astros: Game 1 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Houston aces Dallas Keuchel and ALCS MVP Justin Verlander will have plenty of rest, too, before the matchup begins at Dodger Stadium.

Houston has never won even a single World Series game. The only previous time the Astros made it this far, they were a National League team when they were swept by the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

Now, manager A.J. Hinch's club has a chance to win that elusive first title, while trying to boost a region still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

Houston improved to 6-0 at Minute Maid Park in these playoffs and became the fifth team in major league history to win a seven-game postseason series by winning all four of its home games.

Morton bounced back from a loss in Game 3 to allow two hits over five scoreless innings. Starter-turned-postseason reliever McCullers limited the Yankees to just one hit while fanning six over the next four.

Combined, they throttled the Yankees one last time in Houston. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and their New York teammates totaled just three runs in the four road games.

CC Sabathia entered the game 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts this season after a Yankees loss. But he struggled with command and was gone with one out in the fourth inning.

Houston was up 2-0 in fifth when former Yankees star Brian McCann came through for the second straight game by hitting a two-run double after snapping an 0-for-20 skid with an ground-rule RBI double to give Houston its first run on Friday night.

The Yankees, trying to reach the World Series for the first time since 2009, lost an elimination game for the first time this season after winning their first four in these playoffs. New York struggled on the road this postseason, with this loss dropping the team to 1-6.

Red Sox reportedly make offer to Cora

Red Sox reportedly make offer to Cora

UPDATE: The deal is for three years, per Ken Rosenthal.

BOSTON — We’re just waiting on an announcement now.

A pair of national reports on Saturday afternoon, one from FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal... 

...And another from MLB Network and FanRagSports.com's Jon Heyman...

have firmed up Alex Cora’s expected hiring as Red Sox manager. Both reported that Cora, the Astros bench coach, is expected to take the job once Houston's season ends, which could come as soon as Saturday night after Game 7 of the American League Championship Series. 

Heyman reported a contract offer has already been made to Cora. 

A baseball source said this week that there was “not a doubt” Cora, the Astros bench coach, would wind up with the Red Sox gig. It’s unclear when exactly the offer was made to him, but one had not been made as of midday Wednesday, the source said. 

Cora, 41, a former Red Sox infielder (2005-08) who's also worked in the media and is the most sought-after managerial candidate at the moment, appeared the front-runner since the outset of what proved a small search for the Red Sox.

Earlier, Boston Globe reported that the Washington Nationals were interested in Cora after they fired Dusty Baker on Friday.