The Top Ten (well, five) reasons to still believe in the Red Sox

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NESN runs them down here.

In all honesty, there are only five things on that list that form a legitimate basis for believing in the Sox’ chances this postseason:  Alex Gonzalez’s defense; Clay Buchholz stepping it up; three fireballers in the pen (Papelbon, Wagner and Bard); David Ortiz turning it around; and the versatile and effective presence of Victor Martinez.

The other five reasons are wishful thinking at best, total B.S. at worst:  the absence of Smoltz and Penny (why not cite the absence of Bill Buckner while you’re at it?); the idea that they should “win one for Wake” (what, 2004 and 2007 weren’t enough?); the “magic” of Fenway Park in the fall (didn’t Sox fans used to make fun of Yankees fans for talking about that kind of crap?); Joey Gathright’s similarity to Dave Roberts (whatever that means — every team has a guy who can pinch run); and the early season successes against the Yankees (more recent data is better data, folks).

I suppose anything can happen in a short series — the 2006 Cardinals didn’t look too hot in September of that year — but when you have to dig into this kind of baloney to find a basis for hope, your chances aren’t exactly stellar.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.