Boston Globe baseball writer Gordon Edes check in every Monday with his take on the Red Sox. Ask your question now, and come back next week to see if it was answered.
I am very troubled by the lack of concern so many fans show for the steroid issue. What must be done -- by MLB, the players union, the newspapers, Congress, whomever -- to make the fans understand the evils of steroid use. And not so much from a health perspective. I think we all understand that. But from a fairness and integrity perspective. It is not just about today's players and the level playing field. It also is about former players. Mostly, it is about honesty, credibility and integrity. How are we supposed to believe anyone now? If we as fans say we think this type of cheating is OK, what does that say about our standards and expectations for each other? Why are not more people foaming at the mouth over this? Can you see how angry I am?
Chris, Batavia, Ill.
A: Chris, your passion comes across loud and clear, and it is a bit puzzling that there isn't more outrage among your fellow fans, although I wonder if Mark McGwire's sorry performance at the hearings last week may mark a turning point in fan cynicism. But judging by the record turnouts last season and the turnaway crowds this spring, folks may not care how their heroes knock the ball out of the park; they're happy just to see the results, whether or not they're chemically induced. I think what we're finally hearing are enough players outraged, as you are, that they've been competing on a tilted playing field, which destroys the integrity of the contest and cheapens the records baseball always has held so dear.
Gordo, seems like we haven't been hearing much about Edgar Renteria. I know he doesn't like attention and the Sox have some good media lightning rods to help out guys like him and Mark Bellhorn. How's he been offensively and how's he fitting in with the rest of the champs?
A: Dave, Renteria has had a pretty quiet spring at the dish. He's hitting .250, with a couple of doubles and a home run, and Tito has been using him all over the lineup -- second, third, cleanup Sunday in Bradenton, fifth. The plan is for him to hit in the No. 2 hole when the regular season starts. He fits in fine. He's quiet and pleasant, and really took Hanley Ramirez under his wing, which the Sox loved.
How come no one has asked the current ownership of the Red Sox about steroids? Weren't Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino and Theo Epstein all with the Padres around Ken Caminiti's time there. If Kevin Towers is coming out and saying something, why not ask his bosses at the time? It's hard to believe that with Lucchino, as hands on as he is, that he wouldn't have known/looked into it. Also, why has Gary Sheffield gotten such a free ride compared to Giambi and even Bonds? How likely are the Red Sox to move Hanley Ramirez for a Ben Sheets, Josh Beckett or AJ Burnett type?
A: Jon, you must have missed my story with Lucchino the day after Kevin Towers was chiding himself for not acting on his suspicions that Caminiti was a steroid user. Lucchino said he had no knowledge of Caminiti's steroid use, that Caminiti was already bulked up after he arrived, and that Towers had never voiced his suspicions to him. He also asserted that the Padres had concerns about other substance abuse issues with Caminiti.
"The key point is, when we got Ken Caminiti, he was a certain body type," Lucchino told me. "That was a given. We didn't see anything to cause great warnings.
"Again, our focus was on alcohol and Creatine, whether Creatine would lead to injuries from dehydration, muscle pulls, and tears.
"As I look back on it, knowing what we know now, it's hard to separate the perspective we have now from the perspective we had then."
Will our best prospect since Nomar, Hanley Ramirez, head north with the champs.
Joe, Jupiter, Fla.
A: Joe, you probably heard by now, Hanley will be heading north, but to Portland and the Double-A Sea Dogs, and not the Sox. The Sox don't need to rush him, and they insist he'll continue to play short, though I think a position change, either to center field or third base, is perhaps inevitable. But the kid had a great camp, batting .389 while making just one error, and is growing into his body. He's only 21, and has a great future ahead of him. The Sox already have moved last year's top pick, Dustin Pedroia, to second, and he'll play alongside Hanley in Portland. That should be a lot of fun to watch.
Gordon, looking forward to your always insightful take on the Sox -- and good to know that ball is being played somewhere (it won't happen in NH anytime soon -- 2 feet of snow and below zero nights). Despite last year's incredible achievement, the Sox have now finished behind the Yanks for 7 straight years. Is Francona using this fact as a motivational tool for the Sox? I'm concerned the guys might be vulnerable to an emotional hangover after '04.
Kevin, Lebanon, NH
A: Kevin, that won't work as a motivational tool with this crew; maybe better than anyone else, the Sox understand that making it to October is more important than winning the division. I don't anticipate an emotional hangover; there are enough new faces, you have a number of key guys (Millar, Damon, Mueller, Wakefield, Embree, Timlin) in walk years, and an overall sense of wanting to experience that incredible high again.
I am wondering about Wade Miller. It seemed that the initial reports were encouraging; first he was doing a lot of long toss, then he was going to throw on the side. I was surprised when the Sox then retreated to their initial stance that they considered him the equivalent of a good midseason acquisition. Was there an unreported setback?
A: Martin, I think the Sox have cautioned from the outset that Miller would come slowly, and that it was unrealistic to expect him to be ready at the start of the season. I think it's probably overly optimistic to suggest he'll miss just a month; if he comes back by midseason, that would be great news for the Sox, and the possibility remains that he could require surgery. The shoulder has had a good deal of damage; that's why the Astros were willing to let him go.
It might just be me, but, the 'C' on Captain Varitek is awful. Everyone knows that he has held the position unofficially for the last few seasons, why do we have to see it on his uniform. The NHL is the only league that should allow such a notation on their jerseys. Do you think that this will stick during the regular season or will it be torn off as soon as his first hitting slump arrives?
John, Old Saybrook, Conn.
A: John, that sounds like the old TV series, "Branded,'' when they tore off the stripes from Chuck Connors' uniform (How's that for dating myself?). It will take more than a slump for them to remove the "C" from Varitek's uniform, though I suspect if he went to management and said he preferred not to wear it, they would honor his wishes. As you note, hockey is the only sport where a captain is more than just a ceremonial designation.
Do you get the feeling like I do, that Nomar's gonna have a big year?
A: Jon, I was out to Arizona, and yes, I suspect he will have a big year. He's tearing it up right now in the Cactus League -- he's batting .469 (15 for 32) with 5 home runs and 10 RBIs. I know the ball flies out in the desert air, but that's still mighty impressive. He's healthy, and looks great. He could be a serious MVP candidate if the Cubs are in the race.
What is the outlook for BK Kim?
James, Providence, RI
A: Not good, Jim. He pitched an inning Sunday in Bradenton, and was throwing 84 miles an hour with a very flat slider. I talked to one big-league executive who said Kim is a very marginal pitcher right now; he said he wouldn't take him even if the Sox ate all but $1 million of the $6 million due him this year. I think the Sox will try to dump him, but he could wind up being this year's Ramiro Mendoza, languishing in the minors.
Love the Globe online, keeps me in tune with the Sox news. This probably won't be posted, but hoping you can answer. How do you foresee the two preseason games here in AZ playing out? Bringing the squad or just backups?
A: Eric, this is what Francona told us Sunday. Tim Wakefield and Bronson Arroyo will pitch the team's two exhibitions in Arizona March 30 and 31. John Halama and Keith Foulke also will be Arizona-bound, along with regulars Bill Mueller, Mark Bellhorn, David Ortiz, Trot Nixon, Doug Mirabelli, and Jay Payton. The Sox have another exhibition against the Twins in Fort Myers on March 30. Jason Varitek, Damon, Edgar Renteria and Manny Ramirez will remain back in Florida, along with pitchers David Wells and Matt Clement. The players still in Florida will work out the next day, then rendezvous in New York with teammates for a workout April 2 in Yankee Stadium. Not sure yet about Curt Schilling, whether he'll throw in Florida or Arizona.
The Damon grand slam ball (Game 7 of the ALCS) went on sale on eBay. Do you think the Red Sox would purchase the ball?
A: Naaah. They'll let some collector have it.