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.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.