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Cherington says Red Sox have much to prove

Cherington says Red Sox have much to prove

BOSTON (AP) Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington is heading to baseball's winter meetings in Nashville with his pockets bulging from the $250 million he saved in the deal that sent Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Spending all that money might be the hard part.

In an off-year for big-ticket free agents, the Red Sox will probably not be able to rebuild last year's 93-loss fiasco into a contender just from the players on this year's market. Right-hander Zack Greinke and outfielder Josh Hamilton are expected to be the biggest prizes when baseball's annual winter bazaar opens in Nashville on Monday.

``It's not difficult to find things to spend it on. It's difficult to find the right things to spend it on,'' Cherington said at the Red Sox holiday festival at Fenway Park on Saturday. ``Maybe there are fewer of those (high-profile free agents) than in other years. Maybe it doesn't feel like last offseason. But there will still be headlines; there will still be deals.''

Snowflakes sprinkled down on Fenway as Red Sox fans streamed into the ballpark to see the Christmas tree, listen to carolers and buy tickets for the 2013 season. There were magicians and balloon animals and even a choo-choo train for the kiddies, while inside the team's two World Series trophies were available for photographs and to remind all the children in Boston of the time not too long ago when the Red Sox were good.

And likeable, too.

Cherington said he was paying even more attention this winter to signing the right kind of player, the ones who have an attitude - and not just a swing - tailored for Fenway Park. Beckett, Gonzalez and Crawford are gone from the clubhouse that blew an unprecedented September lead in 2011 and then finished last in'12.

``I think our fans want a winning team, and they want a winning team year after year. They want a team they can root for and get behind,'' Cherington said. ``It's always been a focus. Coming off a 93-loss season, we've got a lot to prove. We're trying to build something.''

New manager John Farrell and his coaching staff should smooth out some of the problems that arose under Bobby Valentine's 10-month reign, Cherington said, but ``the player in the clubhouse have a bigger impact on that than anyone else.''

That's one of the things that attracted him to outfielder Jonny Gomes, who agreed to a two-year deal around Thanksgiving that was announced on Saturday.

``He'll have an opportunity to play a lot,'' Cherington said. ``I see him playing a lot of left field. I think his bat fits well in the lineup, in the ballpark. He's developed a really good reputation in the clubhouse. He's used to the AL East. So just a good fit all the way around.''

Gomes said in a conference call with reporters later Saturday that he is certain the Red Sox won't put together another disastrous season.

``Unless you've been under a rock, you know what happened last year,'' he said. ``Right away, without even signing, I knew the Red Sox would be playing with the biggest chip on their shoulders. There's no way they're going to play like that two straight seasons. I would be honored and love to bring back the fire to the nation.''

Gomes, who's played more than 120 games just once in his 10-year career, said he doesn't know what his role will be with the team, but he's prepared to earn his playing time.

``This is a results-driven industry,'' he said. ``If the results are there, you'll play.''

And even when he's not playing, he feels he can contribute.

``How does a big machine run? A big machine runs with a lot of grease,'' he said. ``I represent the grease that runs the machine, not the machine.''

After signing Gomes, the Red Sox still need another outfielder, a first baseman, at least one starting pitcher and a closer.

``There's still a lot of work to be done this offseason,'' Cherington said. ``I still see the week before the winter meetings as pretty early in the offseason. The water's headed down the river, but hasn't gotten to the waterfall yet.''

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

The Stanley Cup is not the only trophy that will be awarded at the end of the Stanley Cup Final series between the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights. The Conn Smythe will also be given to the player deemed the most valuable to his team during the playoffs.

Who will that player be?

It's not hard to figure out who the frontrunner is right now. Marc-Andre Fleury hasn't just been the best goalie in the playoffs, he's been the best player with a dominant postseason in which he has posted a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. He has been so dominant, he could win it even if Vegas loses the series.

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

The last player from the losing team to win the Conn Smythe was Jean-Sebastian Giguere from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003.

But what about the Caps?

Alex Ovechkin is the leader of Washington and has been absolutely dominant throughout the postseason. He even scored the series-clinching goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Surprisingly, however, Ovechkin does not lead the team in points through the playoffs. Evgeny Kuznetsov holds that edge with 24 points to Ovechkin's 22.

Will their offensive dominance propel them to win the Cup and the Conn Smythe? Will a different player emerge as the hero of the series?

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:

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Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

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Associated Press

Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, May 26, 17 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.  

Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back. 

Contract makes Alex Smith a Redskins for at least three seasons

This post was originally published on March 19. 

When the Redskins traded for Alex Smith on January 30, news also broke that he had agreed to a four-year extension with Washington in addition to the one year left on his contract with the Chiefs. While we got some top-line numbers on the deal, we have gone since then without any details. 

Until now. 

The details show a deal that has a slightly higher cap hit in 2018 than was on his original Chiefs contract and the numbers rise gradually over the life of the deal, which runs through 2022. 

Smith got a $27 million signing bonus and his salaries for 2018 ($13 million) and 2019 ($15 million) also are fully guaranteed at signing making the total $55 million (information via Over the Cap, which got data from a report by Albert Breer). 

But there I another $16 million that is guaranteed for all practical purposes. On the fifth day of the 2019 league year, his 2020 salary of $16 million becomes fully guaranteed. He almost assuredly will get to the point where that money will become guaranteed since the Redskins are not going to cut him after one year having invested $55 million in him. So the total guarantees come to $71 million. 

His 2021 salary is $19 million and it goes up to $21 million in 2022. There have been reports of some incentives available to Smith but since we have no details we’ll set those aside for now. 

The cap hits on the contract are as follows: 

2018: $18.4 million
2019: $20.0 million
2020: $21.4 million
2021: $24.4 million
2022: $26.4 million

The Redskins can realistically move on from Smith after 2020. There would be net cap savings of $13 million in 2021 and $21 million in 2022. 

The first impression of the deal is that the Redskins did not move on from Kirk Cousins because they didn’t want to guarantee a lot of money to a quarterback. The total practical guarantee of $71 million is second only to Cousins’ $82.5 million. It should be noted that Cousins’ deal runs for three years and Smith’s contract is for five. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler