Spring has arrived -- and so has the mailbag! Boston Globe baseball writer Gordon Edes checks in every Wednesday with his take on the Red Sox. Ask your question now, and come back next week to see if it was answered.
Welcome back. I missed your insights over the winter but everything, including our beloved Sox, is looking up now. My question, and I'm sure you are getting this a lot, is which 11 or 12 pitchers you think are heading north with the team next month? It's really an odd feeling to look at this team and make an argument that pitching is actually our strength for a change! Also, what impact do you see our "rookie" pitchers having this year. Thanks.
Larry Delhagen, Allentown, Pa.
A: Hey, Larry, thanks for the good word, but I hope you were reading Chris Snow, myself, Nick Cafardo and our columnists on Boston.com over the winter -- we try to keep people up to date. Here's my guess on the staff. I think they'll take 11 to open the season, with two off-days right off the bat. Starters (5): Curt Schilling, David Wells, Josh Beckett, Tim Wakefield, Jonathan Papelbon. Bullpen (6): Keith Foulke, Mike Timlin, Julian Tavarez, Rudy Seanez, Bronson Arroyo, David Riske. Traded: Matt Clement. There are things that could cause this to change in the next couple of weeks. If Foulke doesn't reclaim his closer role, Arroyo slips back into the No. 5 hole and Papelbon becomes closer. The Sox could deal either Arroyo or Wells, too, depending on the offers they get. But I definitely think they'll deal a starter.
This is my first time asking a question in your mailbag. I am a first-year college student at UMass Amherst. I appreciate your work at the Boston Globe and having this mailbag available for fans like myself. God Bless You! Here are my questions: Do you see a possible re-acquiring of Derek Lowe from the Dodgers possible at the trading deadline if they fall out of contention? What are the possible locations for David Wells, Matt Clement, and Tony Graffinino if they get traded? Are the Red Sox still looking to make a deal with the Washington Nationals for either pitching or depth on the bench? Can you see the Red Sox finally able to win the AL East with their depth at pitching?
D.J. Versailles, Boston
A: D.J., I'll take as many blessings from above as I can get. Thank you, and good luck with the studies. Sorry, but I can't see Derek Lowe coming back to the Sox. Grady Little has already dubbed him his Opening Day starter. Graffanino could wind up with any number of teams needing infield help -- the Mets, Cubs and Marlins immediately come to mind. How about a place like Cincinnati, Cleveland or Washington for Clement, although by the end of spring, other teams may be looking for pitching, too. Wells, I believe, will be kept, though if the Sox want Ryan Klesko, the Padres would make that deal in a heartbeat.
A few questions regarding the WBC: I am interested in knowing if A-Rod and Jason Varitek are getting along. The odds of Roger Clemens in a Red Sox uniform are? Do you think 'Tek can have any influence on his decision? It seemed like he helped convince Wells to stay. Lastly, with Cuba part of the WBC, are there any star players we should know about that may defect that could help a team this season?
Patrick Flynn, Hadley
A: I've been in Orlando in Pool D, with Big Papi and the Dominicans, but I haven't heard of any intramural scraps between A-Rod and Jason Varitek, who share the same agent (Scott Boras) and are both professional enough to set aside any differences to work for a common cause. I think interim pitching coach Al Nipper could have a bigger impact on Clemens' decision than Varitek, who he doesn't know real well. Clemens is real close to Nipper. In the end, I think all the Sox efforts are just going to result in Roger getting more money from the Astros -- I think he's staying home.
I wouldn't count on any Cubans defecting from this tournament ... I think security will be incredibly tight on the Cuban team. But one guy any big-league team would want, from all reports, is Yulieski Gourriel, a 21-year-old third baseman who played on the 2004 gold medal team in Athens.
I have read for two months, maybe longer -- including from you -- how much deeper
the Red Sox bullpen will be in 2006. I know it's "early," but Rudy Seanez and David Riske, two of the "deep 'pen" members, have each pitched three times and each time have been hammered. So where is the depth coming from?
Bob Noble, Lansing, Mich.
A: Don't you think you're reading just a little too much into early-spring results? If they're still getting hammered in the last week before camp breaks, then there may be cause for concern, but I wouldn't put too much stock in the box scores right now. Are you worried about Josh Beckett because he gave up two bombs in his first outing? The important thing is that, so far, these guys are healthy. Seanez has had back-to-back excellent seasons, and Riske's role is probably going to be a sixth-, seventh-inning guy. All that said, middle relievers tend to go up and down over the course of their careers, and most have relatively short shelf lives. That's why the good ones, like Mike Timlin, are so valuable.
We are heading down to Fort Myers next week to watch a game on the 16th and we
are wondering what the attractions are in the area to see and where does everyone hang out?
Bob Graham, Hudson, NH
A: Hey, Bob, I'm guessing you know all about the beach -- I usually get to go just a couple of days over the six weeks I'm down here, but I like Sanibel Island or Naples the best. I used to make the ride to Captiva Island, but haven't been out there since they got whacked by the hurricane a couple of years ago. Sanibel has a nature preserve, the Ding, that's worth a look, if you've got the time (they've got gators). A lot of people like visiting the Edison Estates, Thomas Edison's winter home here. The miniature golf courses here, if you have a family, are huge, and much of the nightlife is centered around Bell Tower, where you're liable to see a player or two in restaurants like Cru, Bistro 41 or the Blue Pointe Oyster. Come early to your game, catch some BP, and you might score an autograph or two.
Hey ... saw you in the Pedro Martinez Sportcentury last night. Nice job. Was wondering if you think people still think not signing Pedro was a bad move?
Chris Marcus, New York, NY
A: Chris, believe it or not, I haven't seen that yet, I'm sorry to say. I think ESPN does a great job with those features. It's funny, I don't think you'll find many Red Sox front-office people saying they made a mistake in letting Martinez walk. One Sox official told me he thinks Pedro had his good year for the Mets, and isn't going to come close to matching it in the next three years. Of course, that's just what Petey needs, more reasons to prove the Sox wrong.
Gordon, now that the dust is beginning to settle in spring training and we're seeing what we are seeing, could you please tell me, as far as you know the facts, in reality why did the Sox let Doug Mirabelli go? Probably the best backup catcher in all of baseball, not to mention his mastery in catching Wake, it just didn't make any sense to me. Please shed some light.
Don Dailey, Honolulu, Hawaii
A: Don, I think it was all about what they got in return, Mark Loretta, who gives them a nice bridge to Dustin Pedroia or whoever else they determine is their second baseman down the road. In their view, Tony Graffanino has never demonstrated an ability to be an everyday player -- 109 games is the most he's played in the season -- and while he played splendidly for the Sox in the second half, they felt they needed an upgrade. Mirabelli did a terrific job as a Sox backup, especially with his handling of Wakefield, and he was a very good clubhouse guy, but I think the Sox felt they could plug someone else in. But with John Flaherty catching them by surprise with his retirement, I suspect they'll be shopping around some.
Are the Sox working on an extension for Terry Francona, or is he going to be a "lame
duck" in 2006? Do you think they should extend him? Thanks!
Richard B., Sudbury
A: Richard, they have been talking with Francona about an extension, and yes, I absolutely believe he deserves an extension and more importantly, a raise. IMO, the Sox manager, with all the demands that job entails, should not be paid in the lower quadrant of big-league managers, especially not the one who won it all in 2004. Francona is not a lame duck -- the Sox hold an option for next season, and because he signed that deal, it could cost him some dough in any extension, but I think they'll get something done.
Gordo, my question is about Lynn Jones. Being from Maine, I knew of him when he was the Sea Dogs' (then the Marlins Double-A team) manager. I was wondering why he left. Supposedly he was great with the outfielders and was a good first base coach, (I don't see how you could be a bad one!). Was he just let go, or did he leave on his own terms? It seems as though he's taken a lesser position with the Reds. Thanks.
A: Jim, Jones was not asked back by the Sox. They felt they needed to upgrade, and they've got new coaches on both corners, Bill Haselman and DeMarlo Hale, though third-base Dale Sveum said the choice to leave was his. Jones is a very professional, thoughtful man, but the Sox wanted more.
I couldn't agree more with your article (and with Keith Olbermann) about the voting injustice that was done to Buck O'Neil. If he is not a Hall of Famer, then I don't know who is. My guess is that you're not on the BBWAA with the Hall of Fame vote, but is it possible among those writers to spread a grassroots movement to induct Buck O'Neil next January as a write-in candidate? Every year, a bunch of writers waste their votes on Pete Rose. If they want to make a statement, how about 400 write-in votes for Buck O'Neil? I would love to hear his induction speech, and it would correct a terrible injustice for this Hall of Fame human being who has done all and given all for the game of baseball.
Marc Wise, Vernon, Conn.
A: Marc, I do have a Hall of Fame vote -- a BBWAA member for 10 consecutive years or more gets a vote -- but O'Neil is not eligible on the writers' ballot, and neither is Rose anymore, for that matter. Unless someone like Bud Selig steps in, I'm afraid the only speech you'll hear Buck O'Neil make at Cooperstown is when they invite him to salute the 17 former (and dead) Negro Leaguers who did get chosen.
No question, but an interesting lyric in Ben Harper's new song "Get It Like You Like It" from his upcoming new album "Both Sides of the Gun":
In 1918 the great Bambino
kicked a piano into Willis Pond
but Johnny Damon swung a bat
grand slam that was that
an 86 year curse is gone
When he played in Boston last May at the Avalon the crowd went wild. Wonder
what they'll do now?
Philip Romeo, Wollaston
A: Philip, I imagine you knew I wasn't cutting edge enough to know that on my own. The guy should get to sing the anthem at Fenway, just for that lyric alone.