Red Sox

Is Lloyd's Patriotic bent hurting him?

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Is Lloyd's Patriotic bent hurting him?

Maybe Brandon Lloyd was a little too open about his preferred employer in 2012. If Lloyd wants to be a Patriot and the Patriots would like him to be a Patriot, why should any other team buy him a plane ticket and spend a day introducing him around the facility? That's the prevailing reasoning among the NFL people I've spoken to when I asked why all's been quiet on the Brandon Lloyd front. He didn't appear to be keeping his options open. With the initial burst of free agency subsiding and all the best wideouts on the market having settled at new addresses, Lloyd remains on the market. He did visit the San Francisco 49ers but sources close to the team there speculate that was a favor done for agent Tom Condon. The Niners host Lloyd, show the rest of the league - and specifically the Patriots - that Lloyd has a market and, somewhere down the road, Condon makes business easier for the Niners on some future deal. Happens a lot. But back to Lloyd. This week has been all about wide receivers. Vincent Jackson, Marques Colston, Robert Meachem, Pierre Garcon, Reggie Wayne, Josh Morgan and Laurent Robinson have all signed somewhere. Garcon - who hasn't had a season remotely as productive as Lloyd - got a five-year, 42 million deal from the Redskins. And Lloyd hasn't had a reported sniff except from the Niners. The level of contact between the Patriots and Lloyd is unknown. What is known is the affinity of offensive Josh McDaniels for Lloyd and the receiver's belief that McDaniels is the man he wants to play for. A week ago, Lloyd told me he was "very interested in hearing the Patriots pitch."Are the Patriots still standing on the mound looking in for the sign or have they delivered their pitch and LloydCondon judged it too low.

The dynamic that now exists is that Lloyd could (and this is speculation because I haven't had contact with him) become indignant over having been stood up. And given the history between Condon and the Patriots, the agent will not be bending over backward to make sure he facilitates a team-friendly deal when the rest of the league is stuffing millions in the waistbands of middling wideouts. The Patriots will use leverage to their benefit. And if they don't have it, they may try to create it (Danny Amendola?). Lloyd gave the Patriots all the leverage they needed by making it very clear he wanted to play in New England. In the end, the Patriots' offense will be better with Lloyd in it. They have the belly to wait things out. We'll see if Brandon Lloyd has the patience.

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. 

Patriots missing Brady, Gronkowski from start of Wednesday's practice

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Patriots missing Brady, Gronkowski from start of Wednesday's practice

FOXBORO -- Tough day in terms attendance at Patriots practice. 

Several starters were missing from the start of the session, including two of the team's most important players, that took place in the rain on the fields behind Gillette Stadium. 

Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Chris Hogan, Marcus Cannon, David Andrews and Patrick Chung were all absent from the start of the practice. 

Hogan (shoulder), Cannon (ankle) and Andrews (illness) were all unable to play against the Raiders last weekend. Chung left the Raiders game briefly with an undiclosed injury but returned later in the game and met with media afterward. The reasons for Brady and Gronkowski's absences are unknown. 

Matthew Slater (hamstring) did not play last weekend in Mexico City, but he was back on the practice field. Newly-acquired defensive lineman Eric Lee -- who took Cassius Marsh's spot on the 53-man roster -- was also present. 

It appeared as though new practice squad return man Bernard Reedy was on the field as well. P-squad defensive lineman Mike Purcell was missing from the session so it looks like he was released in order to make room. 

Finally, Malcolm Mitchell was not on the field for Wednesday's workout. He's eligible to come off of injured reserve and begin practicing, as is defensive lineman Vincent Valentine, but both remain out. 

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