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Random thoughts on the Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  August 17, 2012 10:37 AM

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NEW YORK A few random Red Sox thoughts from Manhattan on a sunny morning . . .

Larry Lucchino showed up at Camden Yards on Thursday night and went into "blame the media" mode. It's a good diversionary tactic and befitting of his law degree. But Lucchino has to know that Red Sox fans are smarter than that.

The media in Boston can be hyperbolic and in some cases, downright vapid. But nobody from the Globe, Herald, WEEI, Comcast or the other outlets threw a pitch this season or helped pick the roster. Fans not pinkish of hat know that.

If a professional athlete is somehow distracted into poor performances by the media, he shouldn't be a professional athlete, or at least not a well-paid one. That is especially the case in the social media era.

If the media is such a problem, how are the Yankees 70-48? They have literally twice as many reporters following them. Don't insult smart fans by making up excuses.

Equally silly is the idea that the atmosphere in Boston will somehow hurt the team's ability to lure free agents. With rare exceptions, players go where the money is, period. You heard CC Sabathia didn't want to sign with New York. He signed with New York. We heard Carl Crawford disliked big markets. He came to Boston. Albert Pujols loved St. Louis and played high school ball in Missouri. He went to Anaheim.

You think Mark Buehrle, an avid hunter from the midwest who used to go home to his farm on days off when he played in Chicago, wanted to live in Miami for six months? Free agents pick the best contracts, not the best cities.

John Henry is controlling the message by sending out e-mails (surely filtered through Dr. Charles) to reporters whenever crisis strikes. But he would be wise to take unfettered questions at some point and let fans hear his answers. That hasn't happened since spring training.

David Ortiz made a pretty good case for returning in 2013 at the same salary when he was playing. His case got even stronger once he went to the DL. The Sox lineup is not remotely as dangerous without David.

It's easy to understand why Red Sox players don't like playing for Bobby Valentine. He has his own way of doing things and he's not particularly interested in propping you up emotionally. He wants to be their manager, not their friend.

But what did the players think was going to happen when they got Terry Francona fired? The Red Sox weren't going to hire Francona's bench coach or one of Francona's friends or a young Francona. They were going to look for the anti-Francona and that's Valentine.

The players created this mess and invited Valentine in. If they liked playing for Francona so much, they shouldn't have had the worst collapse in the history of baseball and disrespected the guy at the same time.

Francona said on his way out that he felt like he lost the clubhouse. Did the players think ownership didn't hear that?

The Sox have an interesting decision to make with their catchers. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is hitting .229 with a .285 OBP and that negates his power to some degree. It's also tough to ignore that the team was 26-16 when Kelly Shoppach started.

Now is probably the time to see what Ryan Lavarnway can do. Then a good decision can be made.

The people at Pawtucket say that Jose Iglesias is making better contact in recent weeks and looks much more comfortable at the plate. But it's worrisome that he has only 11 extra-base hits all season.

Mark Belanger hit .228 and helped the Orioles win a lot of games with his glove. But at this point, Iglesias may not hit .228.

Would love to see Ryan Kalish play a bunch of games this winter in the Dominican Republic. Bet that would get his career on track.

Wonder if Jon Lester and Tim Lincecum, two 28-year-olds from the state of Washington, ever talk?

Lester is 6-10, 5.20 with a 1.37 WHIP over 24 starts and 147 innings. Lincecum is 6-13, 5.45 with a 1.50 WHIP over 25 starts and 140.1 innings. Maybe Lester should grow his hair long and Lincecum should get a crew cut. Can't hurt.

Attention Red Sox: An easy way to improve your public image would be to ask Josh Beckett to take down the novelty bottle opener that says "First Class White Trash" hanging from his locker. It shows up in every TV interview he does.

Of course, somebody in the organization would have to come up with the moxie to ask Josh to do something first.

Kevin Youkilis is hitting .198 since the All-Star break. Wonder if the Yankees would sign him on the cheap over the winter as A-Rod insurance?

Here are four moves to fix the Red Sox for 2013:

No. 1: Trade Josh Beckett and $20 million of his remaining $31.5 million to the Braves for shortstop pospect Tyler Pastornicky.

No. 2: Trade Jacoby Ellsbury for a starter. How about Chad Billingsley of the Dodgers? Ellsbury is going to impossible to sign, or exceedingly costly. Get pitching back now before it's too late.

No. 3: Sign free agent James Shields (assuming the Rays don't pick up his option). He can handle the AL East.

No. 4: Release John Lackey. Or trade him for whatever you can get, maybe somebody else's bad contract. Eating $30.50 million would sting. But it would be worth twice as much in positive publicity and send a clear message to the fan base that it's a new era.

This creates a rotation of Lester, Buchholz, Shields, Billingsley and Doubront. Make Franklin Morales a long reliever/spot starter.

Mentioned this on Twitter the other day and wanted to repeat it: I hope we celebrate the great life of Johnny Pesky more than we mourn his death.

This is a man who made friends everywhere he went, served his country, was devoted to his family and died surrounded by loved ones at 92.

Forget what he did in baseball for a second, that's about as perfect as life gets. We should all be half as lucky.

Pesky's public visitation at the Solimine-Landergan-Richardson Funeral Home (67 Ocean Street, Route 1A in Lynn) is Sunday from 2-8 p.m.

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