Red Sox consider increasing offers to Bay, Holliday

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The Boston Red Sox loaded up on pitching and defense this offseason by bringing in John Lackey, Marco Scutaro and Mike Cameron, then said they were pretty much done with Jason Bay. But guess what? Even the great Theo Epstein can change his mind.

According to the Boston Herald (via our sharp-eyed friends at Rotoworld) the Red Sox are looking at their financial picture to see if they can find enough creativity to increase their offers to either Bay or Matt Holliday.

Previous reports had Boston offering Bay a 4-year deal worth $60 million, and Holliday a 5-year deal for $82.5 million, both rejected with hardly a thought.

Increasing their offer to either player would put the Red Sox at risk of crossing the $170-million luxury tax threshold, and it certainly doesn’t help that the team was unable to unload Mike Lowell to the Rangers.

The other issue is finding a place for Bay or Holliday to play, as the team already has J.D. Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron under contract for nearly $22 million. Something, it seems, would have to give.

Examining your financial picture is certainly not the same as preparing an offer, so we’ll see if this talk leads to anything at all. The prudent advice might be for the Red Sox to go into the season with what they have, not panic in response to the Yankees’ moves, and look at making mid-season deals if necessary.

Interestingly, Yankees GM Brian Cashman said on Tuesday that he would not be looking to add a big contract to replace a green Brett Gardner in left field. One wonders if the Red Sox jumping into the fray – should they indeed jump — would change philosophies in the Bronx.

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks.

A.J. Hinch: “We’ll use every pitcher in Game 7 if we have to”

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It’s not entirely clear why the Astros threw Ken Giles into the ninth inning of Game 6 of the ALCS. With a six-run advantage and the bottom half of the Yankees’ lineup due up, pushing the series to its seven-game capacity looked like a sure bet. Giles may be one of Houston’s better bullpen arms, but he’s not their only option, and it would have made more sense to keep him fresh for a do-or-die Game 7 on Saturday night.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a sure bet when it comes to postseason baseball. That’s more or less what Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch had to say after the game, telling reporters that he had envisioned a quick three outs from his closer as they tried to pull back from the brink of elimination. “We didn’t have the luxury of limping into that inning,” Hinch said. “We’ve seen how these guys can explode in these innings.”

It’s not difficult to recall the Yankees’ explosive drive in the eighth inning of Game 4, when they exploited the holes in Houston’s ‘pen and evened the series with Gary Sanchez‘s go-ahead double off of Giles. Back home in Minute Maid Park, however, there was a slightly different feel to the eighth and ninth innings of Game 6. Jose Altuve led off the eighth with a solo home run, followed by Alex Bregman‘s two-run double and Evan Gattis‘ sac fly. In the ninth, Giles labored through a 23-pitch outing to lock down the win, handing out a base hit and a seven-pitch walk before eventually whiffing Chase Headley on three straight pitches for the last out.

So, while Hinch’s decision to lean on Giles in Game 6 may have felt wasteful, his concerns were not entirely unfounded. He’s prepared to roll with the same strategy during Saturday’s series finale, too, leaving nothing on the table as the Astros battle for their first World Series showdown since 2005. According to Dallas Keuchel, that means all hands on deck — except for Justin Verlander, whose four wins, 24 strikeouts and 1.46 postseason ERA have gotten the Astros as far as he could possibly be expected to take them. “No pitcher is going to be in the dugout,” said Keuchel. “They’re all going to be in the bullpen, myself included. Any way we can help out, we’re trying to get to the World Series, the same way the Yankees are, and that’s a nice feeling to have.”

Does that mean Giles will be available for a Game 7 appearance? Stranger things have happened. Joe Sheehan notes that the right-hander has pitched in back-to-back days 13 times this year, though he’s never thrown as many as 23 pitches on Day 1. Granted, he likely doesn’t have enough left in the tank for another 20+ pitch run on Saturday, but with the World Series on the line, any help he can offer will be invaluable.