Red Sox

A new leader in payroll among MLB teams?

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A new leader in payroll among MLB teams?

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- The Los Angeles Dodgers are on track to become only the second major league team with a 200 million payroll and could end the New York Yankees' streak of 14 years as baseball's biggest spender.The Dodgers are at 214.8 million for 21 signed players next season, according to a study of their contracts by The Associated Press. That follows last weekend's additions of free agent pitcher Zack Greinke for a 147 million, six-year contract and South Korean pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin for a 36 million, six-year deal."Creating a lot of buzz, that's for sure," Greinke said. "And you do wonder when things are going to stop."Crediting the 3.9 million Boston is paying Los Angeles next year as part of last August's trade and not counting the portions of signing bonuses for players obtained from the Red Sox, the Dodgers' 2013 payroll currently is at 207.9 million.The Yankees have led each year since the Baltimore Orioles edged them by 200,000 in 1998, and New York has been at 200 million-plus every season since 2005. The record opening-day payroll of 209.1 million was set by the Yankees in 2008."I don't that there's anybody that can keep up with what the Dodgers are doing," Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers said.Los Angeles, almost certain to pay the luxury tax next year, has joined the high rollers since the Dodgers were bought in May by Mark Walter's group, which also includes Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten."When we took over the team we said we were going to spend money and I guess you guys are seeing that we're trying to do that," Johnson said. "We're not messing around. We're not talking about it, we're doing it."Under outgoing owner Frank McCourt, they started the season with the 12th-highest payroll at 94.7 million. They boosted spending with the midseason acquisitions of Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Brandon League.The Dodgers finished 86-76 last season, eight games behind the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants in the NL West. The Dodgers haven't reached the World Series since winning the title in 1988.In addition to their players with agreements, the Dodgers have two players eligible for salary arbitration: catcher A.J. Ellis and right-hander Ronald Belisaro."We're here to win. I can't tell you if we're stopping or not," Johnson said.New York's 2013 payroll is at 176 million for 13 players, including a 12 million deal for third baseman Kevin Youkilis that hasn't been finalized. Four Yankees are eligible for arbitration: pitchers Phil Hughes, David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain and Boone Logan.The deals for Greinke and Ryu contain numerous complicated provisions and perks.Greinke gets a 12 million signing bonus, of which 7 million is payable by Dec. 31 and 5 million on Feb. 1, 2014. He gets a 17 million salary next year, 24 million in 2014, 23 million in 2015, 24 million in 2016, 23 million in 2017 and 24 million in 2018.He can opt out of the final three years of the contract within three days of the final game of the 2015 World Series.While Greinke doesn't have a no-trade provision, if he's dealt during the season he can decide within three days of the end of the World Series whether to terminate the contract. And if he's traded during the offseason, he gets an extra 3 million and has the right to end the deal immediately.In addition, for the 2018 season only, he gets 1 million for winning the Cy Young Award and 500,000 for finishing second through fifth. Greinke also has the right to purchase four premium tickets for all home games.Ryu gets a 5 million signing bonus, half due on April 1 and the rest on April 1, 2014. His salaries are 2.5 million next year, 3.5 million in 2014, 4 million in 2015 and 7 million in each of the following three seasons. He can earn an additional 1 million annually in performance bonuses, 250,000 each for 170, 180, 190 and 200 innings.If he has 750 innings pitched from 2013-17, he can opt out of the final season. If he wins the Cy Young Award, his salaries for remaining seasons would increase by 1 million. They would go up by 750,000 if he finishes second, 500,000 if he finishes third and 250,000 if he finishes fourth or fifth.He has the same opt-out rights as Greinke, but without the 3 million payment, and he can't be sent to the minor leagues without his consent.Ryu gets a 30,000 moving allowance, eight annual first-class round-trip tickets from Los Angeles to South Korea, an employee assigned to Korean media needs, and interpreter, a personal trainermassage therapist, English lessons and payment for immigration fees.The contract gives him the right to wear No. 99 and allows him access to purchase premium tickets. He gets a suite on the road but pays the difference between the cost of a suite and a regular room.

As Red Sox manager, Cora must keep conviction, honesty that got him job

As Red Sox manager, Cora must keep conviction, honesty that got him job

BOSTON -- Just as a batter can subconsciously play to avoid losing, rather than to win, a manager can operate with a fear of failure. Such an unwitting approach may have contributed John Farrell’s downfall, and is an area where Alex Cora can set himself apart.

A lot has been written about the value of authenticity in leadership. It’s one thing to have the charisma and conviction needed to land a position of power. It’s another to take over a pressure-cooker job, like manager of the Red Sox, and carry the fortitude to stay true to yourself, continue to let those qualities shine.

Cora did not appear to pull any punches in his days with ESPN. The 42-year-old engaged in Twitter debates with media members and fans. And throughout his baseball life, he showed his colors.

Via Newsday’s Dave Lennon, here’s a scene from 2010 when Cora was with the Mets: 

Last year, Cora spoke out against the league office's rule requiring minorities always be interviewed.

Perhaps most interesting of all, when Chris Sale cut up White Sox jerseys, Cora was Dennis Eckersley-like in his assessment:

“What he did is not acceptable,” Cora said of Sale. “If I’m a veteran guy, I’m going to take exception. if I’m a young guy, I’m going to take exception. Because as a young guy on a team that is actually struggling right now, somebody has to show me the ropes of how to act as a big leaguer. And this is not the way you act as a big leaguer. Forget the trades, forget who you are.

“What you do in that clubhouse, you got to act like a professional. And that’s one thing my agent, Scott Boras, used to tell me when I got to the big leagues: act like a professional. Chris Sale didn’t do it. He’s not showing the veterans that you respect the game. He’s not showing the rookies how to be a big leaguer, and that’s what I take exception to.”

Take out Chris Sale’s name from the above quotation and insert David Price’s. Describes Price's incident with Eckersley perfectly, doesn't it? 

Now, no manager can say what they’re really thinking all the time. Cora’s not in the media anymore. His new job description is different. 

But when you consider the great success of Terry Francona -- and why he succeeded in this market beyond simply winning -- what stands out is how comfortable Francona appears in his own skin. How genuine he seems. 

There is a way to acknowledge, as a manager, when something is off. A way to do so gently but genuinely. A way to say what you feel -- and a way to say what you feel must be said -- while operating without fear of the players you manage. 

Ultimately, most every comment Francona makes is intended to shield his players. But Francona shows his personality as he goes (or if you want to be a bit cynical, he sells his personality marvelously). Those little self-deprecating jokes -- he charms the hell out of everyone. The media, the fans. The Cult of Tito has a real following, because he feels real. Because he is real. 

Farrell was not fake. But he did have a hard time letting his personality come across consistently, to his detriment. He was reserved, in part because that just appeared to be his nature. But the job must have, with time, forced him to withdraw even further. As everything Farrell said (and did) was picked apart in the market, it likely became easiest just to play it safe in every facet -- speaking to the media, speaking to players.

The Sox’ biggest undertaking in 2017 seemed to be a nothing-to-see-here campaign. It was all fine. No David Ortiz, no home runs, no problem. Manny Machado was loved. The media was the problem, not any attitude or attitudes inside the clubhouse. Base running was a net positive -- you name it, none of it was ever tabbed as a problem publicly by the manager, or anyone else.

A perpetually defensive stance was the public image. Issues were never addressed or poorly defused, so questions always lingered.

Maybe Cora cannot admonish Sale as he did a year ago now that he’s managing Sale. Not publicly, anyway. But even as a quote-unquote player's manager, the job still requires authority, which should be doled out just as it was earned: through authentic comments and actions.

"My job as the manager is to set the culture, the expectations, the standards, the baseball," Cora’s present boss, Astros manager A.J. Hinch, said the night the Astros clinched the pennant. "It's the players' job to develop the chemistry.

“And obviously good teams always say that, we want chemistry, and what comes first, the chemistry or the winning. But when you have it, you want to hold on to it as much as possible . . . We've got a good thing going because we have one common goal, we have one common standard, and that's to be your best every day."

Cora has to remain true to his best, too -- not what he thinks, and hears, and reads, people want his best to be.

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EX-PATS PODCAST: Why does it seem Patriots secondary is playing better without Gilmore?

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EX-PATS PODCAST: Why does it seem Patriots secondary is playing better without Gilmore?

On this episode of The Ex-Pats Podcast...

0:10 - Mike Giardi and Dan Koppen give their takeaways from the Patriots win over the Falcons including the defense coming up strong against Atlanta but New England still taking too many penalties.

2:00 - Why it felt like this game meant more to the Patriots, their sense of excitement after the win, and building chemistry off a good victory.

6:20 - Falcons losing their identity without Kyle Shanahan as offensive coordinator and their bad play calling and decisions on 4th downs.

10:00 -  A discussion about Matt Ryan not making the throws he needed against the Patriots and if he has falling off the MVP caliber-type player he was last season.

14:00 - How and why the Patriots secondary seems to be playing better without Stephon Gilmore and why Malcolm Butler has been able to turn up his play as of late.