Boston Globe baseball writer Gordon Edes checks in every week to answer your questions on the Red Sox. Ask yours now, and come back next week to see whether it was answered.
Hey everyone, the 'Bag is back, and this is the first installment of what will be a daily 'Bag this week, catching up on all the stuff you've sent my way. Thanks for writing, and looking forward to hearing from all of you.
Hey Gordon, love the chats. In his almost-daily blog on ESPN, Buster Olney has set up a PED-free zone at the top of the page and the PED zone at the bottom. I don't know how much say you get in the Globe's editorial decisions, but any chance you guys could do the same around here? I for one want to read about baseball and spring training, not some drama involving a box of 8 year old bloody needles.
Tommy, New York City
A: Tommy, I get as much say in Globe editorial decisions as Joe Cochran, the veteran Sox equipment manager, gets when Terry Francona makes out his lineup card. But while we clearly have an obligation to cover stories related to steroids and other performance-enhancing substances, there is little question that we will continue to feed you a steady diet of stories pertaining to what is happening on the field, and about the personalities who play the game.
Hey Gordon, is the situation with Varitek's backup truly resolved? If Tek goes down for any period of time, will we be able to truly rely on Mirabelli? Should we gamble with waiting until something bad happens?
Robert Zimmerman, Wichita, Kansas
A: Robert, I have often said that the Sox are most vulnerable if something happened to Jason Varitek that kept him out of the lineup for an extended period of time. Doug Mirabelli is a backup catcher; no one would expect him to suddenly catch every day if something happened to Jason. It appears Dusty Brown may have edged ahead of George Kottaras on the organizational depth chart-Theo Epstein said he catches and throws as well as anyone-but the Sox GM also has made it clear that the Sox are looking for catching, anywhere they can find it.
No question--I'm a longtime reader and huge Sox fan and, by trade, a political reporter in Washington DC. Thought you and the Sox beat writers (whose wonderful works consumes much of what would otherwise be my working day) might enjoy reading piece on the Clemens hearings afrom an inside-DC perspective:
Joshua Green, Washington, DC
A: Joshua, I'm more than happy to highlight your link in the 'Bag; it does offer a different perspective than what a reader will find in the sporting media. I found it both enlightening and entertaining, and gave me a look inside an arena that makes the lions/Christians sound like touch football. As you describe it, Roger never had a chance. Thanks.
Please explain--again, no doubt--how major leaguers become eligible for bigger salaries. Like many others, I'm very aware that last year the Sox relied pretty heavily on Papelbon, Youkilis, and Pedroia and less heavily on Ellsbury, Lester, Buchholz, and Delcarmen--none of whom made a lot of money (top salary was probably around $500K). This year they are all back, but only Youkilis will get the big bucks, $3 million, which pales against the $14 million J.D. Drew will get. And Youk, despite having arguably a better postseason than anyone else, had to go to arbitration to get the $3M, to say nothing of the fact that he's be 29 next month. I have always felt that major leaguers are overpaid, but right now I'm beginning to understand why they fight for every buck in the later years, considering how long it takes to get over the $500K hump.
Creighton Abrams, Springfield, Va.
A: Creighton, As I know you surely understand, baseball's salary structure is in many ways built on service time as much as it is on performance, although there are notable exceptions. If it was exclusively on talent, for example, Dustin Pedroia would not have been paid the major-league minimum $380,000 last season, while his infield partner, Julio Lugo, was being paid $9 million. Players in their first three seasons are under the club's control, contractually. The only stipulation is that a player's contract cannot be cut more than 20 percent. Players with three years' service time, and a handful of what are called Super-2's (the 17% of players with the most service time among those with less than three years) become eligible for salary arbitration. Kevin Youkilis fell in that category, and while he filed for salary arbitration, he settled with the club on a $3 million deal without an arbitration hearing being held. Jonathan Papelbon is a year away from salary arbitration, but the club has been talking to his agents about a multi-year deal before he gets to arbitration, because they'd like some salary certainty rather than seeing what Papelbon might command in arbitration. Dan Duquette was one of the first to do so, signing Nomar Garciaparra to a long-term deal after his rookie season (five years, $23.25 million, with two option years that added an additional $22 million) that actually ended up saving the team money when Garciaparra blossomed into a star, as Duquette predicted. The Rockies just did the same with shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, signing him to a six-year, $31 million deal plus a $15 million club option in 2014. The Phillies have not yet signed slugger Ryan Howard to a long-term deal, and he's asking for $10 million in salary arbitration. After six years a player is eligible to become a free agent. So yes, a player usually has to wait for the big money to kick in, but when it does, salaries take quantum leaps.
Hello Gordon, with the knowledge that Schilling may not pitch in 2008 or ever again for that matter,which of these scenarios seems more likely:1.They give the ball to Buchholz, 2. They give the ball to one of these guys Tavarez-Pauley-or Hansack,or would a trade appear evident? Or is there a free agent pitcher still available that the Sox might be interested in?
Charles Champagne, Vero Beach, Fla.
A: Charles, I believe the most likely scenario is that Clay Buchholz will emerge out of camp as the team's No. 5 starter. Baseball America, in its 2008 top prospects book, recently called Buchholz the best-looking pitching prospect the Sox have had since Roger Clemens. John Farrell, the pitching coach, said Buchholz is capable of throwing 180 innings this season, and Buchholz spent his off-season working out at the Athletes Performance Institute in Pensacola, where he said he put on an extra 10 pounds of muscle. Theo Epstein said the free-agent options remaining don't appeal to the club, and while I think the Sox remain open to a deal for a guy like Joe Blanton or Rich Harden of Oakland, they're not pressured to overpay at this stage.
Hi, Gordon. Are there any updates on the status of contracts for Tito and Varitek?
Kim Cosby-Johnson, Richmond, Va.
A: Kim, talks are ongoing on Tito's contract. I think there may be some movement this week, but neither side appears worried that a deal will get done before the end of camp. There is more intrigue, I think in Jason Varitek's case. I expect his agent, Scott Boras, will be visiting with Theo during camp and trying to hammer out a long-term deal. When Jason was a free agent, he'd instructed Scott to see if he could get a deal done even before he tested the open market, and accepted the Sox four-year $40 million offer after 2004. The bar has been set by Jorge Posada, who signed a four-year, $52.4 million extension with the Yankees; will it take that much to get Jason done, and will the Sox be willing to sign him till age 40 as well? The $13m-a-year I can see; I'm curious to see if they go four years. He is, as usual, in great shape.
More of a comment than a question. We all know the Texas Con Man (rest in peace, Will) said he thought the bat fragment from Piazza's bat was the ball(during the "subway" world series). Even if it was the ball, why would he be throwing it at Piazza, instead of the 1st baseman?
Peter Wilson, Jupiter, Fla.
A: Peter is referring, of course, to the episode in the 2000 World Series between Roger Clemens and Mike Piazza, employing a nickname that my late colleague, the one-of-a-kind Will McDonough, used for Clemens. Man, Peter, that's ancient history, now, but let the record show the 'Bag gave you a forum to make your comment.
Hey Gordon... Spring has finally sprung! I was wondering if you thought the Sox had any real holes to fill for this coming year. The everyday players seem to be pretty well set and they have some flexibility with the pitching, even with Schilling's injury. Barring injury, should we expect them to hit the ground running come April?
Jerry Cook, West Hartford, Conn.
A: Jerry, with the season opener in Japan, they'll be hitting the ground in March. Jerry, the one thing you can't be certain of is injuries. Everything changes if a Josh Beckett or Jason Varitek gets hurt. But no, there are few holes. The big competition will be in center field, where I predict Jacoby Ellsbury wins the job and Coco Crisp is traded, but that, too, can change, if Jacoby pulls a hammy or something else unforeseen happens. There may be a couple of bullpen spots open, and the Sox are shopping for a catcher, but no, this is a set team coming into 2008, and one built to repeat as champions.
I thought that Bryan Corey pitched very well last year after being called up. What is his status?
A: Bryan Corey will be battling for a spot in the bullpen. The Sox will have a 12-man pitching staff at the start of the season, which means seven relievers. Papelbon, Okajima, Delcarmen, Timlin, and Tavarez would seem to be sure of spots, assuming Timlin stays healthy (42 on March 10) and Tavarez does not get the No. 5 starting spot which I think will be won by Clay Buchholz. The Sox offered arbitration to both Kyle Snyder and Javier Lopez, which would seem to mark them as having the inside track on the other two jobs. But they could be challenged, from the right side by Corey and David Aardsma and possibly Dan Kolb, an All-Star when he was with Milwaukee, and on the left side by Craig Breslow, who is out of options, and Jon Switzer, who has had some big-league time with Tampa Bay.
I asked this one in Dec/Jan. and am waiting for a response. Who did the Red Sox get as compensation for the Cardinal's signing of J. Pineiro??
Paul Bernardo, Waterford, Conn.
A: Paul, you are a patient man. The Sox received a 25-year-old switch-hitting outfielder named Sean Danielson, who last season played 91 games for the Cardinals' Double-A team in Springfield, batting .291 with 4 homers and 34 RBIs. Danielson is listed at 5-8, 165 pounds and projects to start the season for the Sox at Double-A Portland.
What plans do the Red Sox really have for Brandon Moss? He seems most likely to be trade bait for a pitcher (along with Coco Crisp). I would hate to see him (and Coco Crisp too) go via trade for a short-term pitcher ala Kason Gabbard & David Murphy.
Jeremy Greenman, Glen Gardner, N.J.
A: Jeremy, that seems to be a pretty good analysis on your part. Brandon has a shot at the backup left-handed hitter on the bench, though the Sox signed a veteran, Sean Casey, in the off-season to fill that role, and also have Chris Carter, who they picked up in the Wily Mo Pena deal, the Nationals sending him over after getting him from Arizona. He may well begin the year in Triple-A, but a trade is certainly possible.
Do you think that there is any chance that the Red Sox would sign Pedro Martinez if he becomes a free agent after the 2008 season?? I just thought it would be nice for Pedro to finish his career with the Sox.
Jennie Padua, Chicopee
A: Jennie, I love the sentiment, and it's an intriguing idea. Pedro is in the last year of hisd four-year deal with the Mets, one that will pay him $11 million this season. If he has a good year, I think the Mets will bring him back. If he doesn't, I could see Pedro saying, hasta luego.