Spring has arrived -- and so has the mailbag! Boston Globe baseball writer Gordon Edes checks in every Wednesday or Thursday with his take on the Red Sox. Ask your question now, and come back next week to see if it was answered.
Hey Gordo ... what do Manny Ramirez's teammates think of him showing up late to camp? They all say they don't care, but I gotta think deep down they're bothered by it. What do you think?
Shea, North Conway, NH
A: Hey, Shea ... think back to when you were in school, when the rest of the class was required to do something, but one kid -- either because he was the teacher's pet or had cleverly conned the teacher -- didn't have to do it. Remember grumbling about that kid? Same principle applies here. Sure, there's some eye-rolling and private carping, but it's an old story around here, and none of these guys -- even someone as outspoken and principled as Curt Schilling -- is going to make an issue out of it, because they don't want it to become a bigger deal than it has to be. Plus, Manny really is a likeable teammate, so guys' tolerance levels are much higher in his case. Not to mention, it benefits everyone when Manny hits 40 and knocks in 130.
The book on Matt Clement has always been that he needs to go after hitters. And when he pitches tentatively, he gets hammered. I thought Jason Varitek was the answer to his problems and it seemed to work for half of 2005. Do you agree? And, if so, what happened to Clement in the second half? (I don't buy the theory that it was getting hit by Crawford.)
Prof. Wayne Roberge, Troy, NY
A: Wayne (or should I call you Professor),
To Matt's credit, he won't use being struck in the head by Crawford's liner as an excuse, either, and it's obvious the Red Sox are not buying it as the reason for his falloff, which is why they shopped him around all winter and almost certainly are making him available this spring. I was talking to a scout yesterday who said that he believes the league caught up with Matt the second time around last season, and that all the doubts about Matt's makeup in a big-game environment were given renewed life by his second-half falloff and disastrous postseason start.
He's a nice back-end rotation guy, this scout said, but he's being paid like a 2 or 3 and has never been consistent enough to warrant that status. You look at his stuff, it's lights out, but it has always seemed to be about more than just the stuff with Matt. He insists that it's just a matter of gaining more consistency, but he's running out of time to get there.
I heard recently that Theo said Jon Lester could be in the rotation later on this season. Assuming Wells is shipped off/retired and Arroyo is in the 'pen (since Clement isn't suited for that roll) that sounds to me like the Sox are going to try to move Clement mid-season. It would make sense since they need to make room for the young starting pitchers and Clement typically has a good/decent first half and would be at his most valuable. What do you think about that scenario?
James O., South Boston
A: James, I think it's an extremely plausible scenario. The only thing that I might suggest differently is that the Sox don't have to wait to move Clement; that could happen in the spring, if they could hold onto Wells until midseason somehow.
Gordon, in your March 2 article, you stated that "(Manny arrived) six
years before the predicted end of the world by former Phillies catcher Darren
Daulton . . . ". What did that mean?
Johnny Doyle, Dover, NH
A: Johnny, it probably wasn't fair of me to think that everyone had seen my Sunday item about Darren Daulton, the Phillies catcher who has embraced a rather unique metaphysical perspective on the universe. Daulton recently told the Philadelphia Daily News that on Dec. 21, 2012, at 11:11 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time, the chosen will simply vanish from this plane of existence. ''That will be the end of this dispensation," said Daulton, the leader of the '93 Phillies team that won the National League pennant who last summer spent three months in jail on a probation violation. ''I really don't know how to explain it. I don't know what words to use so people won't think I'm goofy. But by Dec. 21, 2012 [the last day recorded on the Mayan calendar], people will have a pretty good idea. It's all about consciousness and love. We have the ability to create whatever we want. We're all made of energy."
As I wrote at the time -- OK.
Why isn't Wade Boggs' number 26 retired with the Red Sox? He fulfills the Sox's requirement of 10 years with the club & a member of the baseball Hall of Fame. As I recall, he went into the Hall with a Red Sox cap.
Mike Doherty, Weymouth
A: Mike, the Sox stipulate that the player end their career with the Sox, too. They got around that with Carlton Fisk by phonying up a front-office position with the club. You raise a good point -- yes, Boggs is in Cooperstown wearing a Sox cap, and what about Roger Clemens when he retires? Doesn't he merit consideration to have his number retired here?
Could you please help me understand the Red Sox fascination with Mark Loretta? I understand they traded for him because he's a good second baseman and was entering the final year of his contract, but since Tony Graffanino accepted arbitration why don't they keep him and trade Loretta? I haven't heard this scenario offered anywhere, despite Graffanino's numbers last year being better than Loretta's. Just as important, Graffanino proved last year that he could thrived in Boston and seemed to be embraced by the fans. Loretta is a good player, but so was Renteria, why take the chance? Plus he's more of a health risk and getting paid more money. If nothing else, why not test the market for both of them. I apologize for rambling here a little, I just don't understand why Graffanino is "clearly" the odd man out. Thank you.
Michael Clooney, Dracut
A: Michael, you pose a fair question, particularly in light of Graffanino's outstanding play for the Sox down the stretch last season. From what I've gathered, the Sox based their decision on the fact that Graffanino has never played more than 109 games in a season (last year), and has had major back, knee and shoulder injuries that call into question how durable he will be this summer, when he turns 34. The Sox didn't want to give Graffanino a two-year deal, and assumed someone would this winter, so they were a bit surprised he was still around after he accepted arbitration. Loretta had an off season in 2005, and went down with a thumb injury, but for a one-season commitment, he makes an awfully nice fit, both at the plate and in the field.
Why hasn't there been more discussion about Craig Hansen being the closer if
Keith Foulke can't go? All the attention seems to be focused on Jonathan Papelbon as Plan B. Do the Sox believe Hansen isn't ready?
Brian Quinn, Berkeley, Calif.
A: Brian, the Sox called up Hansen out of desperation last year. They'd really like to see him get a little seasoning, which is why he'll be starting this season in Triple-A. If he dominates, and Foulke struggles, he won't be down there for long.
Hi Gordon, Newton transplant here living and thriving as a Sox fan in Brooklyn. Any thoughts on or buzz about Tony Cloninger returning the role that Dave Wallace replaced him for? His situation was similar to Wallace's, having to leave in/near the season for medical reasons. I remember Tony being disappointed and feeling like he still had more he wanted to do. Plus anytime you get a pitcher who once hit two grand slams in one game is good luck charm for a team.
Colin Crowley, Brooklyn
A: Colin, have you paid your respects to the site of the old Ebbets Field, which is what, a parking lot now? It's nice to hear someone remembering Tony Cloninger, one of the best people you'll ever meet in this game. With Dave Wallace out indefinitely and quite likely the whole year with an infection that will require a second hip replacement, the Sox elevated Al Nipper from bullpen coach to pitching coach and will elevate Ralph Treuel, Sparky Anderson's former pitching coach in Detroit, to bullpen coach. Tony had his own battles with bladder cancer, which is what cost him his job in the first place, and it would be asking an awful lot to expect him to be able to handle a full-time coaching gig again.
Gordon ... welcome back! I'm a firm believer in team chemistry ... and while I know it's way too early to tell, do you think that the loss of players like Kevin Millar, Johnny Damon, Bill Mueller, and Doug Mirabelli will have a negative impact on this year's team?
Doug Redman, Alexandria, Va.
A: Doug, good to be back. We know this much about the 2006 club: It will have a different personality than its immediate predecessors, because of the different mix of players, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The Sox brought in some true high-quality guys in Mark Loretta, J.T. Snow, Mike Lowell, John Flaherty and the early returns indicate that Coco Crisp will make a great teammate as well. The one thing that we know about the previous bunch is they knew how to win together. I don't think anyone would dispute Johnny Damon's contention that no other team but The Idiots could have come back from 0-3 to the Yankees to win the '04 ALCS. We don't know yet how this group will mesh, but if I had to guess I'd say they'll mesh well and be driven to excel, just in much quieter way than the last two years.
I enjoy your work very much. You are a true asset to the citizens of Red Sox Nation ... Recently I was at a book signing event here in Hartford that featured one of the ESPN Magazine baseball writers. During the question and answer period, he stated that the "people in Cleveland do not expect Coco Crisp to fare well in Boston." Evidently, their view is that he is overly sensitive and reads everything written about himself. They suspect that he may wither, rather than shine in the spotlight. Are you familiar with this sentiment coming out of Cleveland? The writer went on to say that he remembers that concerns of Johnny Damon's sensitivity were also raised as he was on his way into Beantown. Please share what you have heard, if anything, coming out of Cleveland about
James "Jaimo" Cappellano, Hartford, Conn.
A: James, thanks so much for the good word. Actually, folks in Cleveland were pretty distraught about the Indians dealing away Coco, and questioned Mark Shapiro's judgment, even though his trading track record has been superb. I think there are more folks in Boston wondering how Coco will make the adjustment than in Cleveland.
GREAT job you and Tom are doing at spring training with the videos! Keep 'em coming!
Darrell Saunders, Wichita, Kansas
A: Hey Darrell, thanks for the good word. Personally, I think TC has really elevated his game since getting rid of the beard. Maybe he could persuade Manny to do the same.