Bill James to assume a more prominent role in the Red Sox front office

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Bill James hasn’t gone anywhere. He’s been working for the Red Sox for years, but in recent years he’s reportedly had less and less of a voice in the team’s major decisions. Which isn’t surprising because you don’t need a groundbreaking analyst’s input to decide to give Carl Crawford and John Lackey a gazillion dollars. Quite the opposite, actually.

But the Boston Herald reports that James will back to the front in this bold new era of Red Sox history:

… as Henry informed the Herald, James had fallen “out of favor over the last few years for reasons I really don’t understand. We’ve gotten him more involved recently in the central process and that will help greatly. He’s the father, so to speak, of baseball analysis and a brilliant iconoclast who looks at things differently from everyone else.”

The biggest challenge for the Red Sox — how does one rebuild in an era where investments in amateur talent are capped and fewer and fewer elite talents are hitting free agency in their prime — would seem to fit James’ skill set pretty well.

Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

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TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.

The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.

Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.