Red Sox

Wakeup Call: Kings of denial

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Wakeup Call: Kings of denial

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Thursday, February 7:

BASEBALL
Kings of Denial: The Tigers' Jhonny Peralta . . . (AP)

. . . the Orioles' (and ex-Red Sox) Danny Valencia . . . (CSN Baltimore)

. . . and the Mariners' Jesus Montero and the Blue Jays' Melky Cabrera all say they have no connection, none, with the Florida anti-aging clinic currently under investigation by Major League Baseball. (AP)

Todd Helton "humbly" asks for the public's forgiveness after being arrested on a DUI charge in a suburban Denver town. (AP)

Baseball's most famous Tea Partier is back with the Rays. (AP)

What did your mother always tell you about horsing around? (AP)

Even in 1865, mothers were throwing away valuable old baseball cards. (AP via nbcsports.com)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
An upsetting night: No. 2 Kansas loses to the Topeka YMCA, excuse me, at TCU . . . (AP)

. . . No. 16 Creighton is blown out at Indiana State . . . (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

and No. 17 Cincinnati is the latest to fall to "no longer a pushover" Providence College. (College Basketball Talk)

Coaches getting fired -- or "resigning" -- in midseason used to be unheard of in college basketball. Now . . . (College Basketball Talk)

At last, a suspect and a motive in the stunning murder of Cal State Fullerton women's assistant Monica Quan and her financee: An ex-L.A. cop who was represented by Kwan's father before a disciplinary board when he lost his job. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Who won and who lost on National Signing Day? Take a look. (footballrecruiting.rivals.com, via NBC Sports)

Even LeBron James was impressed at the job done by Mississippi, which snared the No. 1 player in the country: Robert Nkemdiche, a 6-foot-5, 260-pound defensive end from Loganville, Ga. (AP)

But national champion Alabama was happy with its haul, as well. (AP)

As was Ohio State. (AP)

And -- surprisingly -- Penn State. (AP)

Some of the experts say Notre Dame did better than anyone, and coach Brian Kelly "loves agreeing with experts." (AP)

The Irish recruits say they're ready for the challenge of trying to win starting jobs on a deep, talented team. (CSN Chicago)

Any doubt that Ray Lewis III would head to the U.? (AP)

-- Meddling mothers . . . (NBC's College Football Talk)

CYCLING
I imagine Lance Armstrong will become very familiar with the insides of courtrooms over the next few years, and it's starting now. (AP via nbcsports.com)

GOLF
Bifurcation and deer antlers are taking attention away from what's been a sensational first month to the 2013 season. (AP)

HOCKEY
John Tortorella is a breath of fresh air in the Belichikian world of publicly mealy-mouthed coaches, but sometimes he goes a bit too far. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

Worried about Ilya Kovalchuk, who's muddling along with two goals and five points in nine games? Pete DeBoer isn't. (Pro Hockey Talk)

It's just a "lower-body injury." He's day-to-day. That's what the Flames say about Miika Kiprusoff. What they do, however, is sign another goalie, Danny Taylor. (AP)

The Blue Jackets' Brandon Dubinksy avoids a suspension -- but not a 10,000 fine -- for boarding the Kings' Rob Scuderi the other night. (AP)

PRO BASKETBALL
Even though the NBA has been this far untouched by the public PED scandals that have plagued baseball and are now beginning to taint football as well, commissioner David Stern thinks it's time to test for HGH in his league. (AP)

Yeah, Stan Van Gundy said John Wall's not an elite talent and may have reached the ceiling of his potential and isn't the kind of guy you can build your franchise around, but that doesn't mean he doesn't think he's, you know, good. (CSN Washington)

Wall was good enough last night to help the Wizards snap the Knicks' five-game winning streak. (AP)

The diagnosis is in: Torn plantar fascia for Pau Gasol. (AP)

David Stern and national television were a bad mix for the Spurs earlier this year, but not last night. (AP)

Back when Rick Carlisle was sitting on the Celtics' bench during the glory days of the 1980s, who would have thought he'd amass 500 career wins -- and counting -- as an NBA coach? (AP)

That's three wins in three nights for the Pacers. (AP)

And that's the season for Jason Richardson. (CSN Philly)

PRO FOOTBALL
Geez, just because we fired the guy doesn't mean we won't give him a Super Bowl ring. (CSN Baltimore)

More veterans are shown the door: Ahmad Bradshaw and Chris Canty by the Giants . . . (AP)

. . . and Demetress Bell by the Eagles. (CSN Philly)

Donald Driver shows himself the door in Green Bay. (AP)

The Raiders say that, despite what many think, they're not trying to sneak out the door in Oakland. (CSN Bay Area)

But they are blocking off "Mt. Davis" -- that hideous monstrosity of new seats that was built as part of the effort to lure them back from Los Angeles in 1995 -- to lower the seating capacity of whatever their stadium is called now and, they hope, get them more sellouts. (CSN Bay Area)

Tragic news: The aunt and uncle of 49ers tight end Delanie Walker were killed by a drunk driver early Monday morning in New Orleans after San Francisco's Super Bowl loss to Baltimore. (CSN Bay Area)

SOCCER
There weren't many -- as in, any -- whose stocks rose after the United States' 2-1 loss to Honduras in their World Cup qualifying opener. (NBC's Pro Soccer Talk)

TENNIS
First Rafael Nadal won a doubles match in his comeback from a knee injury. Now he wins in singles. (AP)

Venus Williams' back is still bothering her, so she's skipping the Qatar Open. (AP)

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.

MORE RED SOX:

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