Red Sox

Wakeup Call: Bourn's hot in Cleveland

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Wakeup Call: Bourn's hot in Cleveland

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Tuesday, February 12:

BASEBALL
You may sit unsigned until the beginning of spring training, as Michael Bourn did, but Scott Boras usually always comes through for his clients . . . as long as you don't mind playing in Cleveland. (AP)

Bourn is certainly in the Braves' rear-view mirror, judging by how enthusiastic they are at the start of camp. (AP)

Chris Carpenter is hoping against hope that, somehow, he'll pitch again. (AP)

That elbow flareup that's prevented Ryan Madson from throwing since Feb. 1? Nothing to worry about, insists Mike Scioscia. (AP)

The A's players are letting bygones by bygones with Bartolo Colon, whose 50-game suspension for PED use last August left them in the lurch a bit during their hunt for a playoff spot. (CSN Bay Area)

Carlos Marmol defends himself -- passionately -- against sexual-assault allegations leveled against him in the Dominican Republic. (CSN Chicago)

Cavan Biggio? Kacy Clemens? Josh Pettitte? Yep, they're all the sons of who you think they're the sons of, and they're all playing high school baseball in the Houston area. (CSN Houston)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Whaddya know? Indiana remains No. 1 despite its loss to Illinois last week. (AP)

Colorado State cracks the national rankings for the first time since the days of President Eisenhower and I Love Lucy. (AP)

Things return to normal in what's been a mixed-up Jayhawks Nation, as Kansas routs arch-rival Kansas State. (AP)

It's not how you start, it's how you finish. Georgetown -- suddenly holding the inside track for the regular-season Big East championship after its 63-55 win over No. 18 Marquette -- is proving that. (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

If Myck Kabongo knew then what he knows now, he'd have cooperated with the NCAA way back when. But he didn't, he got suspended, and now, finally, he's back on the court at Texas. (CSN Houston)

Off the court, and perhaps for a long time, is UConn's Enosch Wolf. (AP)

It should just be two games for Butler's Andrew Smith, though. (AP)

Albany? Eighth-best in women's basketball? So says the UPS Team Performance Index -- though not the voters in the AP poll, who don't even have the Great Danes in the top 25 -- but coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson says she isn't surprised her team ranks so high. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
And here we thought no one would believe the Paterno family's report. (AP)

It looks like Penn State's getting its checkbook out. (AP)

The NCAA's loosening of recruiting rules has the Big Ten coaches all nervous. (AP)

Tyler Gaffney's decided baseball's not for him, after all, and he's returning to the Stanford backfield. (CSN Bay Area)

Dennis Erickson's decided retirement's not for him. after all, and he's returning to college football as co-offensive coordinator at Utah. (AP)

Charlie Weis gives Dave Campo a promotion. (AP)

HOCKEY
Mikhail Grabovski's little nip at Max Pacioretty -- sorry, alleged nip -- apparently wasn't caught on camera, so he's going to get away with it. Oh, to be listening to the Montreal talk stations today . . . (AP)

Remember when the Sharks were sailing along as one of the NHL's elite? Yeah, me neither. (CSN Bay Area)

San Jose was "outworked, out-executed, out-detailed, out-goaltended, out- a lot of things" in last night's embarrassing 6-2 loss to the Blue Jackets, according to coach Todd McLellan. Um, Todd? Take a page from the Belichick book and throw "out-coached" in there, too. Just to keep it egalitarian. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

The "home stand from hell"? That's not good, is it, Blues? (Pro Hockey Talk)

If misery loves company, St. Louis will be hanging with the Islanders these days. (AP)

In the injury department, the Maple Leafs may be without starting goalie James Reimer for a while after he got hurt in Toronto's 5-2 win over the Flyers . . . (AP)

. . . and the Avalanche may have lost defenseman Erik Johnson for a spell in their overtime loss to the Coyotes. (Pro Hockey Talk)

And here you thought baseball had the market cornered on obscure records. (Pro Hockey Talk)

PRO BASKETBALL
Tim Duncan? Tony Parker? Manu Ginobili? Who needs 'em? Certainly not the Spurs. (AP)

And this is why Tom Thibodeau thinks San Antonio is the gold standard of the NBA. (CSN Chicago)

Once the Clippers got their stars back, they got back to having fun . . . like last night in Philadelphia. (AP)

No, Andrew Bynum's not playing. No, he's not practicing. But, honest, any day now. (CSN Philly)

James Harden is day-to-day with a sore knee. Uh oh, isn't that what they said about Bynum in, like, October? (CSN Houston)

In more mundane injury news, Danny Granger is about to return. Jealous, Sixers Nation? (AP)

I thought basketball uniforms with sleeves went out with the peach baskets, but the Warriors are bringing 'em back. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

PRO FOOTBALL
The Richard Seymour Era is over in Oakland. (CSN Bay Area)

Did you wonder over the weekend what would happen if a storm like Nemo hit the New York area during next year's Super Bowl? Well, so did the NFL . . . and it started drawing up contingency plans. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

Bill Polian thinks he has the answer to make the game safer: Widen the field. (Pro Football Talk)

In one of the first surprises of the Chip Kelly regime, the Eagles bring back Michael Vick. (CSN Philly)

The NFLPA still wants the Chargers' team doctor to go, even though an independent panel "totally exonerated" him. (AP)

The Giants give the oft-injured Terrell Thomas another shot. (AP)

The Bills, however, are through with Nick Barnett and George Wilson. (AP)

He's baaaccck . . . or so he hopes. (CSN Bay Area)

Red Sox can be thankful for a successful past and a bright future

Red Sox can be thankful for a successful past and a bright future

For the glass-is-half-full folks, there are those back-to-back Eastern Division titles. For the glass-is-half-empty folks, well, there are those two first-round playoff ousters (though both their conquerers made it to the World Series, and one of them won it). But, here on Thanksgiving night, there's plenty for Red Sox Nation to be thankful for, starting with . . . 


YOUR GOOD HEALTH

We know you don’t need the Red Sox to know you how important the most basic elements of life are. But sometimes, the typical fantasy land of baseball can grab our attention. The death of 17-year-old Sox prospect Daniel Flores (above) this month from complications because of cancer didn’t take away only a potentially great baseball career. It took away a beloved, hard-working young person from the people who loved him. He had just made millions of dollars in July for his talent on the field, but what does such a windfall matter compared to one’s health? His cancer was both rare and fast-moving, per the Boston Globe.

MOOKIE, JACKIE, XANDER, BENINTENDI, DEVERS

The kids deserve some love. They probably won’t be together on the Red Sox forever. Heck, the group could get broken up this winter. But while any of the Killer B’s (plus a D) remain on the Sox, there should be a sense of optimism. Two straight 93-win seasons may have resulted in a first-round exit, and 2017 didn’t meet expectations for some individual performances. But you know what? The youths are still damn good, and there’s time for them to show us they can be even better.

INSANELY GOOD PITCHERS IN CHRIS SALE AND CRAIG KIMBREL

Neither hogs the spotlight once the game ends or says too much. Sale doesn’t even have Twitter. But the righty closer and lefty starter both do two things exceedingly well: make batters swing and miss, and prevent runs. When both pitch, your seat at the park may well be worth the price of admission. (But we won’t ask what you paid for those seats.) Sale didn’t take down Pedro Martinez’s Sox single-season strikeout record this year, finishing with five fewer than Martinez’s 313 in 1999. But he could have done it. And with a little more rest next year, one can envision him plowing his way through playoff opponents too.

ALEX CORA'S NEW DIRECTION

A first-time manager’s not a sure thing, but as Sox owner John Henry noted, there was a feeling it was time for a change. It’s a little early to be thinking ahead to a New Year’s resolution, but a manager who better connects with his players and brings a different vibe to the day-to-day scene is reason to feel the Sox are following the right road map. Plus, if nothing else, Cora took that awesome picture walking toward Fenway.

A CHRISTMAS SHOPPING SPREE MAY BE AROUND THE CORNER

We don’t want to be too materialistic. But Uncle Dave Dombrowski couldn’t let you buy everything you wanted last year. The credit card companies needed him to step back for a year. Now he’s ready to spend. He might not close down Bloomingdale’s for the day for you to do your private shopping, but if you need a couple great jackets to complete your look, it sounds like he’s ready to get you some designer threads. He probably feels there won’t be too many chances to have a moment like this with you, at this stage of your life, and he wants to make the most of it.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

 

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.