John Farrell, Dan BEllion

The Red Sox are four-deep on the manager depth chart against the Rays

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On Sunday, the benches cleared in a game between the Red Sox and Rays in Florida. The Red Sox weren’t happy that Yunel Escobar stole third base with a five-run lead in the bottom of the seventh inning. The bad blood continued on Friday night’s game between the two teams, this time in Boston.

In the first inning, Rays starter David Price hit Red Sox DH David Ortiz, prompting home plate umpire Dan Bellino to issue warnings to both benches. This didn’t sit well with Red Sox manager John Farrell, so he came out to argue with Bellino. It’s understandable — the Rays got their chance to throw at someone, while the Red Sox would not be afforded such an opportunity. Farrell was ejected.

Bench coach Torey Lovullo took over for Farrell. Price hit Mike Carp with a pitch in the bottom of the fourth inning, prompting both dugouts to empty. Bellino concluded that Price did not intentionally hit Carp, so he did not eject Price. Lovullo spoke his mind to Bellino before being ejected. Third base coach Brian Butterfield took Lovullo’s spot in the dugout as manager of the Red Sox.

In the top of the sixth, Sox starter Brandon Workman threw behind Rays third baseman Evan Longoria. Bellino ejected Workman for intentionally throwing at a batter, and Butterfield was automatically ejected as well. Hitting coach Greg Colbrunn became the latest acting manager, and Burke Badenhop replaced Workman on the mound.

For those keeping score at home, here are the managers the Red Sox have gone through tonight:

  • John Farrell
  • Torey Luvullo
  • Brian Butterfield
  • Greg Colbrunn

If Colbrunn is ejected, the Red Sox may have to bring back Bobby Valentine. (I shamelessly stole this joke from D.J. Short on Twitter.)

Also of note: the Rays have hit two Red Sox with pitches, and no one has been ejected. The Red Sox have hit no one (but intentionally threw at Longoria, of course) and have had four members ejected. To be fair, however, they did start the whole shebang by getting upset over a very questionable reading of baseball’s unwritten rules.

Are the current Collective Bargaining Agreement talks too friendly?

Scott Boras
Associated Press
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Baseball’s current collective bargaining agreement expires on December 1. There have been comments from both commissioner Rob Manfred and MLBPA director Tony Clark suggesting that progress was being made and there has been no suggestion thus far that there are sticking points which could lead to a work stoppage. Heck, even a few acrimonious rounds of negotiation before it’s all said and done seem unlikely.

That’s good news for fans, but it’s not making certain agents happy. Smooth labor sailing likely means a new CBA that is pretty close in most terms to the current CBA. Agents — especially agents who represent veterans — don’t like that because they believe that the current rules regarding free agency, draft pick compensation, luxury taxes and qualifying offers penalize the players they represent. Today Ken Rosenthal has a story about that anger, talking to both anonymous agents and super agent Scott Boras about how baseball’s middle class is disappearing and baseball’s median salary goes lower and lower.

Major League Baseball counters that while the median salary is going down, the average salary is going up. And baseball is right about that. But it’s also the case that the average is propped up by a handful of superstar contracts while the somewhat less lucrative but still nice mid-level contracts for mid-level veterans are disappearing. The financial landscape of the game is morphing into one with a small upper class with nine-figure contracts and a large lower class of pre-arbitration players and veterans on shorter, smaller deals, squeezing the old veteran middle class out of existence.

Sound familiar?

Baseball, of course, is not the American economy. There are some good reasons why those mid-level contracts have gone away. Specifically, because they tended not to be very good deals for the teams who signed them. At the same time, baseball is far better able to tweak its rules to spread the wealth than the U.S. government can, and those rules — like the qualifying offer and luxury tax — have had a harsh impact on a lot of players.

There’s not a clear answer on what the best system is for free agents, draft pick compensation, draft bonus pools and the like actually is. I tend to favor the fewest restrictions on a player’s right to negotiate freely with teams, but I’ll also acknowledge that there is a less than perfect market at play in baseball given revenue disparities between teams and the need to maximize, within reason, competitive balance. It’s not an easy trick even before you get into the B.S. team owners tend to spew about pocketbook matters.

But it’s also the case that an all-too-friendly relationship between the union and the league — one in which a given set of rules is rubberstamped from CBA to CBA — is not an ideal situation. No one wants acrimony, but the fact is that the players and the union are slicing up a pie. If the person you’re slicing up a pie with is all-too-happy to keep slicing it the same way, it probably means that they’re getting a bigger piece than you. Maybe, if it’s your job to grab a bigger piece?

The agents Rosenthal talked to, who represent a good chunk of MLBPA membership, certainly think the union should be doing some more grabbing. I wonder if their clients do too.

Four baseballs autographed by Jose Fernandez wash ashore

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 03: Jose Fernandez #16 of the Miami Marlins looks on during a game against the New York Mets at Marlins Park on August 3, 2015 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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This is just . . . ugh.

WSVN-TV in Miami reports that a black bag containing Jose Fernandez’s checkbook and four baseballs signed by him washed ashore on Miami Beach. Probably a bag to keep stuff dry while out on the water.

The bag was given to a lifeguard. Hopefully the bag finds its way back to Fernandez’s family quickly.