Roger Clemens might get into the Hall of Fame, after all. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Roger Clemens might get into the Hall of Fame, after all. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Who knew the biggest impact Bud Selig had on Major League Baseball would be getting inducted into the Hall of Fame?

That’s exactly what’s happening when looking at how things are unfolding in voting for entrance into Cooperstown, so far.

Thanks to the excellent work of Ryan Thibodaux — who compiles HOF votes as they are surfaced on social media — we know that there is a pretty significant trend with 25 percent of the ballots accounted for. All of a sudden, both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens seemingly actually have a chance.

Both Bonds and Clemens are at an identical 70.3 percent, with all candidates needing at least 75 percent for induction. So far, this way of thinking is in stark contrast to what previously transpired last year, when both players were punished for their association with performance enhancing drugs. In 2016, Clemens landed at 45.2 percent, while Bonds came in at 44.3 percent.

Of the 107 ballots accounted for thus far, Bonds has picked up new votes from 13 voters, while Clemens is at 14. Each has had one voter change their mind, taking them off their ballot.

This would seem to line up with the growing narrative that Selig, the commissioner of MLB during the time these players were allegedly cheating, can’t be inducted while the PED guys keep suffering.

Another player who may be put over the top by the new way of thinking is Ivan Rodriguez, who is in his first year of eligibility. The former catcher sits at 83.8 percent, joining Jeff Bagwell (92.8 percent), Tim Raines (91 percent) and first-time candidate Vlad Guerrero (75.7 percent) as those who would make it at this moment.

Edgar Martinez is also making a strong surge, picking up 19 new voters while losing just one, and currently sitting at 66.7 percent after getting just 43.4 percent last year.

Manny Ramirez, however, isn’t coming close to induction despite his Hall of Fame-like numbers. The first-year candidate is at 33.3 percent, with his suspensions due to PED being weighed heavy.

As for Curt Schilling, he has picked up seven new voters, but lost 16 (the most of any candidate thus far). He sits at 52.3 percent, which is identical to his number after last year’s voting.

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Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

It became very clear from the beginning of the offseason that the Red Sox weren’t going to go hard after Edwin Encarnacion. How early in the offseason? Try Nov. 5.

Edwin Encarnacion never came close to joining the Red Sox this offseason. (John E. Sokolowski/USA Today Sports)

Edwin Encarnacion never came close to joining the Red Sox this offseason. (John E. Sokolowski/USA Today Sports)

It became very clear from the beginning of the offseason that the Red Sox weren’t going to go hard after Edwin Encarnacion. How early in the offseason? Try Nov. 5.

It was on that day, at the Arizona Fall League All-Star Game, that Dave Dombrowski let Encarnacion’s agent, Paul Kinzer, the direction the Red Sox were going to go when it came to replacing David Ortiz. A few days later at the GM Meetings, the Sox’ strategy of not paying big bucks to help fill their vacant designated hitter spot.

What the Red Sox ultimately did was ink first baseman Mitch Moreland to a one-year, $5.5 million deal, with the plan to play the lefty hitter against righties with Hanley Ramirez serving as a DH. When lefties were starting, the likelihood would be that Ramirez could slide to first, with someone like Chris Young filling the DH role.

As for Encarnacion, he landed in Cleveland on a three-year deal worth $60 million, that includes a club option for a fourth season.

Considering the perceived natural fit for Encarnacion with the Red Sox (along with an endorsement from Ortiz), and the reasonable terms the 33-year-old agree to with the Indians, there were more than a few observers who viewed the first baseman/DH as one that got away.

So, what happened?

The prime impetus for the Red Sox not engaging in the Encarnacion sweepstakes was their desire to not be hit by the penalties that come with going over the luxury tax threshold, which is where they would find themselves even on the kind of three-year deal the slugger agreed to.

Here is a quick overview of the rules that were stiff-arming the Red Sox when it came to contemplating going over the CBT:

Ramifications of going over CBT

* The tax itself
* Team receives less compensation (lower draft choice) when they lose a free agent attached to a qualifying offer after that season.
* Team gives up a higher draft choice when they sign a free agent attached to a qualifying offer after that season.
* Team loses more international signing bonus pool money if sign a free agent attached to a qualifying offer.
* Higher tax rate/surcharge if team is more than $20 million over threshold; even more above $40 million over

Ramifications of going over multiple times in a row

* The more times you go over, the higher your tax rate is. Third time in a row = 50 percent for first $20 million over.
* The more times you go over, the more revenue sharing money you lose.

So while things would have gotten a little uncomfortable if the Red Sox didn’t reset their penalties and went over, doing so the following two years might have been the deal-breaker.

The Red Sox really don’t have much coming off the books after 2017, unless you include Moreland and Young ($6.5 million). If they don’t pick up Craig Kimbrel’s $13 million option for 2018 it could be more, but that wouldn’t seem to be a reality right now. The same goes for Chris Sale’s $12.5 million team option for 2018.

The price tags for arbitration-eligible players, such as Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts, figure to go a long way in negating any financial flexibility during this span, as well.

But for what Encarnacion delivers, a case could be made that it would be worth it to pay all of the aforementioned penalties. The Red Sox didn’t support that case. In fact, one has to wonder if Dombrowski viewed the value of the righty hitter like some others in baseball.

The Oakland A’s weren’t going to come close to going over the CBT, but there aren’t a lot of players Billy Beane is willing to go all-in for in free agency. He identified Encarnacion as one of those special opportunities, actually offering more than the Indians.

You have to also wonder if Encarnacion would have taken even less than he did with the Indians considering the Dominican Republic native prioritized signing with team closer to home instead of the biggest paycheck. And with the notion that he was going to value contentment, it shouldn’t be forgotten that the Red Sox were one of three teams on his pre-offseason list that he wanted to target signing with (the Blue Jays and another undisclosed team, not in New York, was the other).

So what if another player we knew the Red Sox lusted after would have made himself for a one-year deal in that $20 million-a-year range? Let’s just call that player … David Ortiz.

The guess is that if Ortiz changed his mind, and came out of his brief retirement for one more year, the Red Sox would be willing to bite the luxury tax bullet for season. But maybe not. Perhaps they wouldn’t view such a scenario in a very Belichickian viewpoint. By all accounts, after all, Red Sox ownership never did extend that nothing-to-lose offer to come back on a mammoth one-year deal.

But, once again, the penalty for turning their back on an Ortiz return almost certainly outweigh anything the new collective bargaining agreement can bring.

It’s all worth a holiday conversation.

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Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford
Highlights and sound clips provide a look back at the final season in the legendary career of Red Sox DH David Ortiz
Highlights and sound clips provide a look back at the final season in the legendary career of Red Sox DH David Ortiz

[0:00:01] ... you and yours and welcome in a to the WEEI Christmas Day David Ortiz the special like bananas Q with the Red Sox studio host. Recapping an illustrious career for Red Sox slugger David Ortiz 2016. If marking the end of an error in Boston sports. As David Ortiz announces retirement from baseball on the conclusion of the Red Sox season that ended in a three helping sweep of the hands of the Cleveland Indians. Before you get into the 2016. Season recap for Big Papi. Let's take a look back at some of the defining moments of his career that help third David Ortiz into the legend a big poppy. Before we get into the 2016. Recap for the Red Sox DH. Let's take a look back at somebody defining moments that helped turn David Ortiz into big poppy and a household name here in Boston. And across Major League Baseball beginning with big hits and 2004 playoff ...
[0:08:11] ... year. Full all of you. Just some of the memorable hits for David Ortiz who was an illustrious career. For the Boston Red Sox. Coming up after the break we'll start before staff recap of the final season here in Boston for David Ortiz. We'll do it here on the WEEI Christmas Day David Ortiz special. Welcome back to the WEEI. Christmas Day David Ortiz special recapping the career of the Red Sox slugger. November 15 2015. Is fortieth birthday David Ortiz announcing a retire at the end of the 2016. Season. Ortiz had a lot of big moments throughout his career and his ...
[0:10:28] ... this kid and we. Oh here comes the bad stroke here kitty. Big Papi takes offers racquet any chance of selfish goal of base that pitch was down. Contested steelers' second and a standing ovation for David Ortiz. Has these swipes second base. Yeah Eagles whom will be wooten. Did you watch it well hit. Yeah you know the way ...
[0:11:43] ... The second base. Jacques like. With that RB IQ he's just tied Gary Sheffield. Worked Ortiz open fields and Major League RB. What. They are there. Any hammers. Do to right play down back at at. ...






Hanley Ramirez is getting a jump on things down in the Dominican Republic.

As he had hoped to do, the Red Sox first baseman/designated hitter has joined Licey of the Dominican Winter League, starting this week. Ramirez has only served as a DH, entering Thursday night having gone 2-for-12 with a pair of walks. He was out of the lineup for Thursday night’s game.

Ramirez is using his stint with Licey to prepare for playing in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Jake Romanski’s career has hit a bump in the road.

The Red Sox’ minor-league catcher has been suspended by Major League Baseball for 50 games after testing positive for amphetamine use.

Jake Romanski

Jake Romanski

Jake Romanski’s career has hit a bump in the road.

The Red Sox’ minor-league catcher has been suspended by Major League Baseball for 50 games after testing positive for amphetamine use.

Romanksi spent the entire 2016 season with Double-A Portland, hitting .308 with a .751 OPS in 90 games.

The 26-year-old was a 14th-round selection in the 2013 draft by the Red Sox after spending his collegiate career at San Diego State.

The 5-foot-11, right-handed hitter was named an Eastern League All-Star in 2016. He is rated as the Red Sox’ 36th overall prospect by SoxProspects.com, and tops among catchers in the minor league system.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Curt Schilling tips his caps to Red Sox fans during Game 2 of the 2007 World Series. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)Each Hall of Fame ballot contains difficult choices.