UPDATE: The Red Sox are over the luxury tax threshold

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UPDATE: Buster Olney of ESPN.com hears that despite today’s news about exceeding the luxury tax threshold, the Red Sox are still working under the same parameters they always have. In other words, if the team has a chance to acquire a player that can help them get to the playoffs, they will do it. Olney concludes by saying it would make “no sense” to refuse to make a move due to a “relatively small” luxury tax given their current investment in the team.

After giving it some thought, I have to agree with Buster. In fact, with the signings of John Lackey, Mike Cameron and Marco Scutaro, among others, the Red Sox actually increased their payroll roughly 38 percent from last season — from $121,745,999 million in 2009 to $168,109,833, according to Cot’s Contracts. And this is during a time when player salaries are actually going down. They have invested to win now.

Are the Red Sox going to get Dan Haren, Roy Oswalt or Jayson Werth? No. But that was extremely unlikely to happen anyway. As for the possibility of acquiring David DeJesus, the biggest hurdle may be what the Royals want in return, not his modest salary. Same goes with Scott Downs. As for Kerry Wood, he needs to prove he is healthy first. 

Provided that Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Victor Martinez eventually come back healthy, they should only need minor cosmetic changes to their roster, anyway. It’s just a matter of whether they can hang in the race until all or most of them return. Not many teams would act differently. I’m sure this issue will incite tons of conversation leading up to the trade deadline, but in the end I think it’s a bunch of sound and fury signifying bupkis. 

1:53 PM: This morning, Nick Carfardo of the Boston Globe backed up a recent report by Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse that suggested the Red Sox were unlikely to add any significant payroll before the trade deadline due to concern of going over MLB’s luxury tax threshold. Now it might not matter.

Just a short while ago, Carfardo reported that the Red Sox “have found out in the last few hours” that they have indeed gone
over the luxury tax threshold for 2010
, something that will have an impact on the team’s
payroll for 2011.

According to Cafardo, the Red Sox will be taxed at a 22.5 percent rate for every dollar spent above $170 million in payroll. The rate increases to a 30 percent tax for a payroll of $178
million next season. No surprise, the Yankees are the only other team that is over the threshold.

The Red Sox have made a concerted effort to avoid the luxury tax threshold, even not announcing Josh Beckett’s contract extension until after Opening Day so that it wouldn’t count against this season’s total. Evidently something happened to push them over the top, though it’s not exactly clear what that is. Hopefully we’ll hear more on that soon.

Recent reports have indicated that the Red Sox were willing to wait out their injured superstars as opposed to going out and adding any significant payroll. Today’s news probably won’t do anything to change that.

Today is the anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s Iron Man streak ending

ADVANCE FOR USE MONDAY, MARCH 31 AND THEREAFTER - FILE - In this Oct. 5, 1938 file photo, New York Yankees' Lou Gehrig scores the first run of the 1938 World Series against the Chicago Cubs as he crosses home plate in the second inning of Game 1 at Wrigley Field in Chicago. A dozen years before Babe Ruth’s famed ‘Called Shot,’ teammate Lou Gehrig hit an equally dramatic homer. Gehrig was 17 when his high school team traveled to Chicago to take on a Chicago team. In the bottom of the ninth, with two outs and his team down 8-6, Gehrig hit a ball over wall and onto Sheffield Avenue to win the game. The historic ballpark will celebrate it's 100th anniversary on April 23, 2014. (AP Photo/File)
Associated Press
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Today is a significant baseball anniversary. On this day in 1939 Lou Gehrig asked out of the lineup as the Yankees played the Tigers in Detroit. It both ended his Iron Man Streak at 2,130, but also marked the beginning of Gehrig’s very public acknowledgement of ALS, the disease which would come to bear his name. Gehrig would never play again.

While it was clear that Gehrig’s body was betraying him and his baseball skills were abandoning him in the first few games of the 1939 season, some say the ultimate impetus for Gehrig asking out of the lineup happened earlier that day. The story goes that Gehrig collapsed on the grand staircase of the Book-Cadillac hotel where the Yankees were staying and that later, as he sat in the hotel bar, he told manager Joe McCarthy that he couldn’t play anymore.

The Book-Cadillac is still there. It deteriorated over the years and then was renovated. It’s a Westin now — the Westin Book-Cadillac. It’s a wonderful hotel and the bar area still has much of its old charm, but the grand staircase is gone, replaced with a couple of escalators. I stay there whenever I’m in Detroit. I’m friends with one of the Book-Cadillac’s bartenders and I try to see him whenever I’m there. When I sit in that bar I often wonder if Gehrig sat near where I was, telling McCarthy that he just couldn’t do it anymore. There are a lot of ghosts in Detroit. Gehrig’s is mostly in New York, but there’s a little bit of him in Detroit too.

Cal Ripken would later break Gehrig’s record. I doubt anyone breaks Cal’s. But in some cases the record holders are less interesting than those who were surpassed.

More talk of a juiced ball

VIERA, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Washington Nationals practice balls  during spring training workouts on February 18, 2014 in Viera, Fl.  (Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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At the end of March we linked a story from Rob Arthur and Ben Lindbergh at FiveThirtyEight which sought to figure out why home run rates have spiked. Their theory was that it was either randomness or a juiced ball. They tested baseballs and found no evidence of a different ball, so that seems to have ended that.

Except it didn’t end it because, as so often is the case in the early part of a season, we are seeing some statistical, well, let’s just call it “interestingness” and people don’t like to let such interestingness go. To that end Yahoo’s Jeff Passan — acknowledging the Lindbergh/Arthur study — asks once again if the balls are funky.

It’s all based on exit velocity of baseballs, which Passan notes has spiked. He doesn’t come to any conclusions — just not enough data — but the very act of asking the question in a column and Passan’s acknowledgment that he sounds like a conspiracy theorist tell you that that’s his hunch. And it could be the case. I still think the ball got juiced in 1987 and again, on a more permanent basis, in 1993, but there’s no evidence to really support that. Just one of those “can’t think of anything better” sort of situations.

For now, though, it’s May 2. And I suspect that for as long as there have been May 2nds in a baseball season, people have looked at the stats and suspected something weird was afoot. Maybe something weird is afoot. We just can’t really know.

A-Rod knows how to keep his bat dry

New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez watches his RBI single during the first inning of a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday, April 19, 2016, at Yankee Stadium in New York. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
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Alex Rodriguez had a big night in a losing effort last night. He homered and drove in four. In the past week or so he’s raised his average over 50 points and may be finally shaking off the offseason rust. When you’re over 40 it takes you longer to do everything.

But even if it takes his reflexes some time to get up to speed, you can never take away the knowledge and experience of a savvy veteran with a high baseball I.Q. For example, whether he’s hitting or not, the man knows that it’s important to keep your bat dry on a rainy night:

Sean Burnett opts out of his Dodgers deal, to sign with the Braves

Washington Nationals relief pitcher Sean Burnett walks off the mound after being pulled during the eighth inning in Game 2 of baseball's National League division series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Monday, Oct. 8, 2012, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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In early April the Dodgers agreed to a minor league contract with pitcher Sean Burnett after he didn’t make the Washington Nationals’ roster out of spring training. He was assigned to Triple-A Oklahoma City. As is usually the case, veterans like him have an opt-out if they don’t make the big club after a certain amount of time, and Burnett has opt-ed out, realizing that he’s likely not in the Dodgers’ plans.

But he could be in the Braves’ plans. They stink on ice. Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that he’s signing with them and will report to Triple-A Gwinnett tomorrow.

Burnett, 33, hasn’t appeared in the majors since he pitched three games for the Angels in 2014 and hasn’t pitched regularly in the bigs since 2012. Tommy John surgery will do that to a guy. He did toss eight and two-thirds scoreless innings for the Nationals during spring training and has allowed only two earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings of relief work for Oklahoma City. There may still be something there. Innings will need to be eaten in Atlanta this year. Burnett may be able to eat them.