The Red Sox loading for what passes for bear in 2011

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Could the Red Sox be biding their time this offseason and waiting to score big in the 2010-2011 offseason? MLB.com’s Ian Browne — and payroll math — suggests so.  After noting the blah free agent class this year, Browne writes:

. . . if you fast forward to next year at this time, general manager Theo
Epstein and his crew of assistants will be in a far more enviable spot,
one that could land them major stars who may have the impact that the
Yankees felt from CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett en route
to a 2009 World Series championship . . . When you add up the 2010 salaries of David Ortiz ($12.5 million), Mike
Lowell ($12 million), Josh Beckett ($12 million), Victor Martinez ($7
million), Jason Varitek ($3 million) and Julio Lugo (the Red Sox owe
their former shortstop $9 million in ’10), that leaves a potential $55
million that will come off the books.

So who’s available next year? Joe Mauer, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Lance Berkman, Carlos Pena,
Carl Crawford, Halladay, Brandon Webb, Jayson Werth and Cliff Lee.

Um, well, that’s no Teixeira and Sabathia, is it?  I mean, Mauer is probably going to sign in Minnesota, right?  Jeter and Rivera are old and would never go to Boston anyway. Berkman ain’t young. Pena is not an impact player for a team like Boston. Crawford is nice but has likely peaked, as have Werth and Cliff Lee, in all likelihood. Halladay, maybe. Webb, maybe, if he recovers from injury. But none of those guys are game changers.

Nice theory, I guess. And of course, payroll flexibility is always a good thing. But it strikes me that if the Sox are going to make a splash, it’s going to be via trades, not signings.

Bruce Maxwell first MLB player to kneel during National Anthem

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Athletics’ rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell did not stand for the National Anthem on Saturday night. He’s the first MLB player to do so and, like other professional athletes before him, used the moment to send a message — not just to shed light on the lack of racial equality in the United States, but to specifically protest President Donald Trump’s suggestion that NFL owners fire any of their players who elect to protest the anthem by sitting or kneeling.

“Bruce’s father is a proud military lifer. Anyone who knows Bruce or his parents is well aware that the Maxwells’ love and appreciation for our country is indisputable,” Maxwell’s agent, Matt Sosnick, relayed to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser on Friday. He continued:

Bruce has made it clear that he is taking a stand about what he perceives as racial injustices in this country, and his personal disappointment with President Trump’s response to a number of professional athletes’ totally peaceful, non-violent protests.

Bruce has shared with both me and his teammates that his feelings have nothing to do with a lack of patriotism or a hatred of any man, but rather everything to do with equality for men, women and children regardless of race or religion.

While Maxwell didn’t make his own statement to the media, he took to Instagram earlier in the day to express his frustration against the recent opposition to the protests, criticizing the President for endorsing “division of man and rights.”

Despite Trump’s profanity-laced directive to NFL owners on Friday, however, it’s clear the Athletics don’t share his sentiments. “The Oakland A’s pride ourselves on being inclusive,” the team said in a statement released after Maxwell’s demonstration. “We respect and support all of our players’ constitutional rights and freedom of expression.”

Whatever the fallout, kudos to Maxwell for taking a stand. He may be the first to do so in this particular arena, but he likely won’t be the last.

Alex Wilson broke his leg on a 103-MPH comebacker

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This one is brutal. Tigers’ right-handed reliever Alex Wilson was diagnosed with a broken leg after taking a blistering 103.8-MPH line drive off of his right leg during Saturday’s game against the Twins. According to the Detroit News’ Chris McCosky, it’s a non-displaced fibular fracture, but will still warrant an extended recovery period and signal the end of Wilson’s season.

Wilson replaced Drew VerHagen to start the eighth inning and worked a full count against Joe Mauer. Mauer roped an 93.3-MPH fastball back up the middle, where it struck the pitcher on his right calf. While Mauer took first base, Wilson got to his feet and tried to toss a warm-up pitch, but was in too much pain to continue and had to be helped off the field.

Even in a season that isn’t going anywhere in particular, this isn’t how you want it to end. The Tigers have yet to announce a recovery timetable for the 30-year-old reliever, but he won’t return to the mound until 2018. He exited Saturday’s outing with a 4.35 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 6.3 SO/9 over 60 innings.

The Tigers currently trail the Twins 10-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning.