Another day, another Curt Schilling meltdown over Hall of Fame voters questioning his character.


Another day, another Curt Schilling meltdown over Hall of Fame voters questioning his character.

On Thursday’s Kirk & Callahan Show, NJ.com writer Randy Miller called in to defend his column declaring Schilling a scumbag. Citing his behavior as a teammate, and not some recent questionable internet memes, Miller said he decided to stop giving Schilling a vote for the Hall of Fame.

Miller, who covered Schilling for five years in Philadelphia during 16 years on the Phillies beat, was in the midst of explaining his reasoning when Schilling called in to let him have it.

“I have a problem with people that lie and don’t have a spine to stand up for the things that they say when they get confronted on them,” Schilling said.

Schilling went on to note that he never liked Miller when he was a player, while Miller countered that when they had a very loud argument during BP, Phillies players commended him for standing up to the Big Schill. They also spent a lot of time arguing over underachieving Phillies right-hander Garrett Stephenson for some reason, whom Schilling called, “Clay Buchholz before Clay Buchholz.”

“If Schilling is such a good teammate, then why was it when we had that argument and he’s yelling at me during team stretch when he should be working on his body, he’s yelling at me in the dugout saying I should be a movie critic, why was it afterwards players were coming up to me patting me on the back like I hit a home run, or saying oh my God, we love that, we love seeing you give it to him,” Miller asked.

Responded Schilling: “The guys that had problems with me were the guys that didn’t do their job.”

Miller contended that in numerous off-the-record conversations, former teammates and executives who knew Schilling said he was a terrible teammate, which prompted the scumbag line, which was really just a repurposing of an adjective Schilling has used to describe writers.

“Should I really put this guy over the top who is a scumbag?” Miller asked. “I’ve never really used the character clause. I thought to myself, you know what, he doesn’t deserve my vote, because of the way he was as a teammate.”

Countered Schilling: “This is why I don’t lose sleep over this. When you understand human beings like this guy have a control over the Hall of Fame vote … they invoke the character clause randomly. This is why I don’t lose sleep.”

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

Edwin Encarnacion’s agent Paul Kinzer confirmed once again Thursday that the Red Sox were never really engaged in the pursuit of the free agent slugger. It was a reality that Kinzer discovered in early November after talking with Dave Dombrowski at the Arizona Fall League All-Star Game.

Edwin Encarnacion’s agent Paul Kinzer confirmed once again Thursday that the Red Sox were never really engaged in the pursuit of the free agent slugger. It was a reality that Kinzer discovered in early November after talking with Dave Dombrowski at the Arizona Fall League All-Star Game.

The Red Sox lack of interest (which was likely primarily due to concerns over luxury tax implications. ended up being the Indians’ gain. And thanks to Encarnacion’s introductory press conference in Cleveland Thursday, that reality has officially been punctuated.

With Encarnacion wearing the Indians’ No. 10 thanks to his three-year, $60 million deal, it’s hard to argue that Cleveland isn’t the on-paper team to beat in the American League.

For those Red Sox fans just sobering up from their Chris Sale-induced intoxication, understand that their team would have to be classified as the on-paper No. 2. But even the foundation of any argument propping up the Red Sox as the A.L. favorite — their pitching — takes a hit when looking at what the current American League champs have to offer.

Corey Kluber. Danny Salazar. Carlos Carrasco. Josh Tomlin. Trevor Bauer. Andrew Miller. Bryan Shaw. Cody Allen.

Chris Sale. Rick Porcello. David Price. Eduardo Rodriguez. Drew Pomeranz. Steven Wright. Tyler Thornburg. Joe Kelly. Craig Kimbrel.

It’s certainly not cut and dried. But tipping point in the Indians’ favor, right now, would be the proven work of Miller and the return of a healthy Carrasco and Salazar. The 29-year-old Carrasco has been one of the best young starters in the league over the past two seasons, and Salazar was the Cy Young favorite heading into the All-Star break with a 2.75 ERA. Neither were factors in the Indians’ World Series run due to injuries.

Offensively, the Red Sox are basing a big chunk of their post-Ortiz approach on projecting turnarounds from Pablo Sandoval and Mitch Moreland, with the hope the young core at least don’t take a turn for the worse. And there will be a heavier reliance on the health and production of Hanley Ramirez.

The Indians? Encarnacion is upgrading their rotating DH/first base spot (replacing Mike Napoli), and arguably Cleveland’s best all-around position player, Michael Brantley, figures to return after playing in just 11 games in 2016. This was a guy who combined to hit .319 with an .876 OPS, 35 homers and 38 stolen bases in 2014 and ’15.

It’s not a lay-up, and playing on paper is what it is, but thanks in large part to Encarnacion, this is where we stand. It could be worse. You could live in Minnesota.

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TO LISTEN TO THE HOT STOVE SHOW WITH ROB BRADFORD, JOHN TOMASE AND MIKE MUTNANSKY, CLICK BELOW

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford
Mut, Bradford, and Tomase are talking about the World Baseball Classic, and players choosing not to play in order to keep their focus on their teams and the regular season, and Rob talks with Joe Kelly about his new role as a reliever for the Red Sox
Mut, Bradford, and Tomase are talking about candidates for the Baseball Hall of Fame, and the way some voters have used their votes as a platform to reward or scold certain players by voting or not voting for them

Joe Kelly's new pitch helped him retire all 11 of the postseason batters he faced. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Joe Kelly’s new pitch helped him retire all 11 of the postseason batters he faced. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Getting classified as the best player for the losing team on the wrong end of a three-game sweep in a best-of-seven American League Division Series probably carries the same satisfaction as a participation trophy. But for Joe Kelly, the honor should mean something.

The three games he pitched in — retiring all 11 batters he faced — might represent a pretty good jumping off point for defining the reliever in 2017.

And, if nothing else, Kelly can say he managed the feat in large part to the last-minute invention of a new weapon he didn’t use once in the regular season.

Appearing on the Bradfo Sho podcast, Kelly explained:

“In the playoffs, it was all sliders. I kind of tweaked the sliders with (assistant pitching coach) Brian Bannister I think the first day in Cleveland. We held the same grip, but did something with my wrist, the way I cocked it a little bit different and I played catch with them warming up before batting practice for about 10 minutes. I liked how it spun, and he liked how it spun and how it went straight down and disappeared, kind of like a Chris Archer-type slider. I got into the game and I shocked to it because I wanted to test it out and got a good swing and miss on it. So I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to keep throwing it.’ There was one point probably in my third appearance in the playoffs where 10 of my 13 pitches I threw were all sliders. I didn’t want to throw it that much but I kind of fell in love with it because it was generating so many swings and misses and so many foul balls and weak contact. It was something I learned probably 10 minutes before Game 1. I was like, ‘You know what, why not?’ That is kind of my personality. If I see something I see works, or I think will work, it’s something I’m going to try.

“It’s another game. It’s just baseball. It’s something where I know they were scouting me. The hitters were saying, ‘OK, high velocity fastball thrown in the top of the zone, and he’s bouncing curveballs. If I break out a third pitch they hadn’t seen, obviously on the video, it was something I thought I had the advantage on their hitters because I didn’t throw it prior to the playoffs. It ended up working and I saw some really bad swings and some really bad timing. Guys were baffled because they didn’t know I had that pitch. I kept throwing that pitch just because it probably wasn’t in the scouting report and it got more swings and misses than I thought it would.”




Check this out on Chirbit

So now Kelly is heading into spring training with a chance to join newly-acquired Tyler Thornburg, Matt Barnes, and, eventually, Carson Smith, as a candidate to set-up closer Craig Kimbrel.

The righty had already started to establish his identity as a high-leverage reliever, holding opposing hitters to .180 batting average, while striking out 20 and walking just three, in his 11 games after being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket. During that span he was charged with just one run (the walk-off grand slam by Mark Teixeira on the night the Sox clinched the American League East in Yankee Stadium).

He had accomplished the month-long success thanks to better command of a 100 mph fastball, and a revamped curveball that came from the same arm slot as his heater. But now he has his new slider, which maxes out his repertoire heading into the new season.

“One hundred percent,” said Kelly when asked if those were the three pitches he would be leaning on from Day 1 in 2017. “That’s what my game-plan is, trying to simplify pitching for this season.”

TO LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE JOE KELLY INTERVIEW ON THE BRADFO SHO, CLICK HERE

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford
Rob Bradford is joined by Red Sox relief pitcher Joe Kelly to discuss middle of the night Pokemon chasing in Central Park on an electronic skateboard, a drastic change he made just moments before the first postseason game and how he views his new lot in life in the bullpen

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Word out of Arizona (courtesy the Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro) is that former Red Sox general manager Mike

Blake Swihart is still valued by the Red Sox.  (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Blake Swihart is still valued by the Red Sox. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Word out of Arizona (courtesy the Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro) is that former Red Sox general manager Mike Hazen, who currently holds the same title with the Diamondbacks, asked about the availability of catchers Christian Vazquez and/or Blake Swihart.

The answer back from the Red Sox, per the report, was that president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was “unlikely to deal” either player.

That leads to this question: Why the Red Sox would be wanting to keep what might seem like a surplus of catchers if they could get legitimate value back?

The reasoning is not hard to decipher. Although there is some promise with Sandy Leon, Vazquez and Swihart, there are no certainties with any of the backstops.

Dombrowski has reiterated throughout the offseason that Leon is heading into spring training as the catcher slated to get the majority of the playing time. The Red Sox believe that what he did during his memorable run in 2016 (.310 batting average, .845 OPS) earned the right to see if that lightning remains in the bottle.

But there nobody can ignore the downturn Leon experienced at the tail-end of the regular season, notching four hits in his last 44 at-bats (.091).

Vazquez and Swihart should be able to position themselves in February to resurface as legitimate major league catchers, particularly with Leon off at the World Baseball Classic. Vazquez did enough to gain residence on the postseason roster, exhibiting his old throwing arm, and Swihart has been told there will be no more experimenting with other positions after recovering from ankle surgery.

Remember, Vazquez was the Red Sox’ legitimate defense weapon who all the pitchers desperately wanted to throw to before his Tommy John surgery. And Swihart had shown enough that most felt comfortable with him as the Opening Day catcher heading into 2016.

And, thanks to Swihart still possessing options, the Red Sox don’t have to panic regarding trying to get all three on the big league roster. That’s another reason why the team has little motivation to break up what could be a strength of their club.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford