Boston Globe baseball writer Gordon Edes checks in every week (usually on Thursdays or Fridays) to answer your questions on the Red Sox. Ask yours now, and come back next week to see if it was answered.
Gordon, I was thinking about the Sox re-inserting Papelbon as the closer. Will this be a long term decision? How will this affect the long term development of prospects like Craig Hansen and Bryce Cox, who are considered heirs apparent for the closer's job? Would the Sox consider converting either of them into starters if they keep "Pap" as the closer? Or would Hansen and Cox continue as relievers to someday replace Timlin and strengthen the pen while getting younger at the same time? I feel it would be most beneficial to the squad to only keep "Pap" as a closer until one of the youngsters is ready to take over that role, then put him back into the rotation. He's more valuable in the long run as a 200 inning/16-18 win starter, so long as we have a reliable, not necessarily terrific, closer/pen.
Although with young starting pitching prospects like Buchholtz, Bowden, and Bard coming up, it may not be necessary.
Imagine a rotation/pen in a couple of years like this one:
1. Josh Beckett
2. Daisuke Matsuzaka
3. Jon Lester
4. Clay Buchholz
5. Michael Bowden
6. Daniel Bard
Middle/long relief Kyle Snyder
6th Manny Delcarmen/Edgar Martinez
7th Craig Hansen
8th Bryce Cox
9th Jonathan Papelbon
All 28 or younger and potentially Very Good!
Bob Oliveira, third grade teacher, San Carlos Park Elementary, Fort Myers
A: Bob, I'm not sure you intended your letter to be in the mailbag, but it was too good to pass up. Plus, I don't often get a chance to give a shout-out to a third-grade teacher...thanks for your hard work.
You share the vision Theo Epstein and his player development have for this team, with the abundance of gifted young arms that are in the system. Jonathan Papelbon appears to have made a firm decision that closing is what he wants to do for the rest of his career, so a return to the rotation would seem to be out, but the team is well-positioned to build a rotation with home-grown talent to supplement Beckett and Dice-K at the top. I'm reminded, after Paul Wilson was released this week by the Reds, how precarious the shelf life of pitchers is. Wilson, a No. 1 draft pick in '94 out of Florida State, Bill Pulsipher and Jason Isringhausen were widely hailed as the young guns that would carry the Mets to glory. But Wilson and Pulsipher both broke down physically, and only Isringhausen has come close to fulfilling the career path imagined for him. And Jon Lester's bout with cancer also delivers the message that there are no guarantees. Teams go into this process knowing that all of their great arms probably aren't going to make it to the big leagues--that's why it's so important to have depth in your system, which the Sox certainly do.
Hey Gordo, Huge fan of yours. Definitely one of the best sports writers around so thank you for what you do. Now my question is obviously regarding this great news of Paps going back to the closer role. Why would they slot Taverez in the fifth spot and not Kyle Snyder? I think this kid has some real potential and could be the next Arroyo if he can stay healthy.
Chris Vigneault, Manchester, N.H.
A: Chris, I think they feel Tavarez is entitled to a look because he pitched so well in six starts at the end of last season. He was unbeaten (3-0) with a 4.01 ERA and had a complete game. They're paying him like a starter, too -- $3.1 million, although in truth, middle relievers' pay took a big jump this winter. I think if Tavarez falters, Snyder would definitely get a good look, though both pitchers are probably just keeping a seat warm for Jon Lester. If Tavarez does well, I could see the Sox using him as a potential trading chip.
With Papelbon back as closer, what are the chances of getting Roger Clemens? I'd like to see the media make a big deal about this because they did it when the Yankees were the lead runner. Now I say its the Sox and Yanks tied with the Astros shortly behind.
Michael Thomas, Chandler Ariz.
A: Michael, I won't pretend to know what Clemens is thinking -- I really thought last year the Sox had a great shot at him, but if I had to handicap the field this year, I'd say, 1. Astros, 2. Yanks, 3. Sox. That could change if 'Stros get off to a bad start, but with his pal Andy Pettitte in pinstripes again, I would think the Bombers have an edge on the Sox.
Hey Gordon ... what do you think of Curt Schilling breaking the news of Papelbon's closing on his blog yesterday? I imagine the Red Sox didn't care for that too much considering they were waiting to make the announcement.
A: Chad, actually, Schill didn't break the news -- ESPN, which was televising the game, reported it first. Curt just weighed in on it, and I'm sure those who look to his blog for info were hoping he would do just that. Hey, I was in Clearwater with the team and Schill was back in Fort Myers, so I was interested in what he had to say, though I did think it was pretty funny we heard from him before we got an official announcement. Francona said Schill apologized to him the next morning, and I imagine Schill might wait until stuff becomes official, but to me it was no biggie.
Hi Gordon, I should apologize. I've never written to say that I read all (or almost all) your Sox columns because they're well-written informative pieces. Yet, here I am writing for the first time, and it's to criticize. Figures.
Anyway, I couldn't help but notice how fixated you've become with Manny's "attitude." You bemoan the fact that fans cut him too much slack and you seem particularly indignant about how he "quit" on the team for the last six weeks of the '06 season.
I'll confess that Manny sometimes does things that leave me shaking my head too but those last six weeks aren't among them. You've made it obvious that you think his knee injury was highly exaggerated. I give him the benefit of the doubt, but lets assume you're right and that he simply chose not to play. I'm not sure whether you think his failure to play was the cause of the Sox' fold or is simply a character flaw that we should all condemn. I submit that it is certainly not the latter, and that while it may have contributed to the former, there were many other contributors, with Manny's unavailability not even being among the top reasons for the fold.
We all agree that the five Yankee games in August were the turning point. Manny went 8 for 11 with nine walks and seven RBIs in that series. Ponder those numbers for a moment. Unfortunately, not everyone stepped up like he did so by the end of the day on August 21, the Sox had dropped five straight to the dreaded Evil Empire. Nine days later, the Sox traded David Wells for a minor leaguer. What message did that send? At the time, Boomer was arguably their number one money starter. When Theo traded Wells, he threw in the towel and everyone except my Aunt Pollyanna knew the season was over. Sure, Manny could have ignored the message from management and played, risking a more serious (real?) injury. Some special players (e.g. Varitek.) might have done so, because their persistence and determination to fight against adversity extends even to adversity caused by their own general manager/owners. That might be a reason to praise the special player, but not to criticize a guy who wouldn't risk his body for owners who wouldn't risk losing a pitcher without getting something in return. I'm not suggesting Theo was wrong to trade Wells. But if Theo had the right to decide the season was over on August 31, Manny had the same right to reach the same conclusion. Lose the fixation. You'll feel better and be back to your old insightful self. Sincerely,
Jerry Jasinski, Niskayuna, N.Y.
A: Hey Jerry, Thanks for writing, and the thoughtfulness of your remarks. Let's all agree to love Manny, until one of us (me?) decides we can't again.
A couple of things: There were some significant developments between the end of the NY series and the Wells trade. Despite the debacle against the Yanks, the Sox were still in the wild-card race, four games behind the White Sox and 3 1/2 behind the Twins, the eventual playoff qualifier. By Aug. 30, however, the Sox had won just two of nine games after the Yank series, including six in a row, and were 7 1/2 back, which is when Theo decided to make the Wells deal. And sometimes "white flag" deals are anything but. The Phillies dealt Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle at the trading deadline, and the Phils suddenly got hot, which is why Pat Gillick then went out and got Jamie Moyer and Jeff Conine.
But what I'd really like to focus on is Manny's performance against the Yanks-not only in that series, but the entire season. Manny hit a stunning .556 (25 for 45) against the Bombers in 2006, with seven home runs and 21 RBIs. He also drew a startling 17 walks, which gave him a fantastic OBP of .667. Of the 15 games he played against the Yanks, he hit safely in 12 of them (the last one, he walked in both of his plate appearances) before coming out with a sore knee. And he had two or more hits in nine of those games. That's incredible. How can you not love this guy? Do me a favor, would ya, and point out the pinhead who doesn't.
Sorry, not a question, just a correction, but I can't find other contact info for you. You wrote that Jacoby Ellsbury is the first prominent Native American player since Allie Reynolds, but in fact Kyle Lohse is a member of the Nomlaki tribe. See for
Sean Dongre, Pacifica, Calif.
A: Sean, It was strictly a matter of how I defined prominent. I mentioned Allie Reynolds because he was a star for the Yankees, while Lohse, who is now with the Reds, has been a journeyman pitcher. But he is indeed a member of the Nomlaki tribe, which is based in northern California.
Mr. Edes, I enjoyed your story on Jacoby Ellsbury and look forward to his progress toward the big club. Here in New Mexico we are fortunate to have many native tribes, and also many Hispanic families. While "Ganado" is associated with the Ganado Red blankets (red background; black, white, and gray designs), Ganado Mucho's name originates from the Spanish for "many cattle," which is consistent with what you report. Maybe teammates should call Jacoby, "Golpes Muchos" or Many Hits.
Michael Pettit, Red Sox Nation, Santa Fe, N.M.
A: Michael, thanks for the insight, and the potential nickname. That's the hope for Jacoby, anyway!
So we've all heard about this "power core" in the center of the lineup, Ortiz, Manny, and Drew. We're seeing them in the lineup day-in and day-out. How're they doing? Is it going to work?
Jeff Smith, Missoula, Mont.
A: Jeff, Manny and Papi, we all know what they can do. Drew has had a sensational spring, and with his ability to go the opposite way, should do some damage to the Monster. These guys are going to put up some big numbers.
I've been reading crazy blogs where people are actually saying that Mike Lowell will retire next year. What are your thoughts on this? I think it's crazy to think that, since he himself has stated that he has many years left in him. And hopefully he shows that to everyone this season, and gets a new contract at the end of the season.
Steve Penser, Fall River
A: Steve, if you haven't read it yet, I urge you to go to Boston.com and read Nick Cafardo's terrific story from last Sunday on Mike. In that story, he talked about his plans of playing past this season, but also said how much he missed being away from his kids. I expect Mike will play as long as he's productive. A class act.
I am a huge Tim Wakefield fan. My question: how important are Tim's fastball and curveball to keeping hitters honest regarding his knuckleball? How good are his fastball and curveball? I know his curveball does not cut the mustard otherwise, but I heard that compared to his knuckball, the fastball looks a LOT faster. Is this true? Part of my concern is that as Tim gets older, while this in theory has no effect on his knuckleball, does this affect his other pitches? If so, how important is that? Thanks!
John A. Donaldson, Singapore
A: John, thanks for checking in from Singapore. Funny you should ask, but after he pitched Thursday, Wake talked about his curveball. "I just want to make sure I throw them for strikes," he said. "I just feel sometimes my breaking ball is short, down and away to right-handed hitters all the time. I feel like if I don't throw it for a strike, not too many guys will swing at it. But it's not as if I'm going to throw it more, if the knuckleball is working." I don't think his fastball or curve are necessarily critical weapons in Wake's repertoire, John, but I do think the element of surprise can be a useful weapon. And since he's never thrown much more than a BP fastball, I don't think advancing age should make much of a difference with that pitch.
Hey, who sets the spring training schedule? I'm assuming each team creates their own schedule, but who specifically?
Brian, Bristol, R.I.
A: Brian, Katy Feeney, who is MLB's vice president for club relations and scheduling, was in Bradenton this week to catch the Sox-Pirates, and she told me that she personally sets the schedule for all 30 clubs. She sends out questionnaires to each club's traveling secretary -- in Boston's case, that would be Jack McCormick, to get some idea of the needs and requests of each club. As you can imagine, she said, everyone in Florida wants to play the Sox or Yanks. She then sends a draft to each team's traveling secretary, who do some additional revisions. McCormick sets the team's game times and adds split-squad games to satisfy the requirements of manager Terry Francona and Theo Epstein. She's already well down the road toward completing next spring's schedule.
Hi Gordon, In your bit about Jon Lester in the Sox Notebook from 3/22, you noted that "Lester did not finish the second or third inning because of pitch-count restrictions". Would you mind explaining what this means? Is this saying that after a certain number of pitches are thrown, the inning is automatically over? Interesting twist if this is the case. Thanks!
Ken Anderson, Westminster, Colo.
A: Ken, you got it right. It was a controlled situation, and wasn't specific to Lester. When Jonathan Papelbon pitched in a minor-league game, it was the same arrangement. If he reached a certain number of pitches in a given inning, play was stopped, and the inning was declared over, regardless of how many outs there were.
You read often where a player has run out of options and can't be sent down without clearing waivers. My question is how many options does each player . Thank you
David G. Farrar, Essex Jct., Vt.
A: This is an annual question, David, which is why I downloaded Rob Neyer's "transactions primer." Here's his entry on options:
"After three years as a pro, a player must be protected on a team's 40-man roster, or he is eligible for the Rule 5 draft. Once he's served those three years, and assuming he is added to the 40-man roster, his club then has what are called "options" on him. When a player is on the 40-man roster but not on the 25-man Major League roster, he is on "optional assignment." One common misconception about the rules is that a player may only be "optioned out" three times. Actually, each player has three option years, and he can be sent up and down as many times as the club chooses within those three seasons. When you hear that a player is "out of options," that means he's been on the 40-man roster during three different seasons, beginning with his fourth as a pro, and to be sent down again he'll have to clear waivers."
I am an inner-city physical education teacher and high school baseball coach. I am interested in holding some youth baseball clinics for the elementary children in the city of Hartford. Do you know any Sox players or contacts in the baseball community who might support this? These kids really need a positive outlet in their lives. Please consider this. Thanks.
Patrick Mairson, Hartford, Conn.
A: Patrick, I would suggest you contact the Sox department of community relations. The director is Vanessa Leyvas. Hartford is a bit off the beaten track for players during the season , but the Sox are big on community outreach, so I think it's worth getting in touch. Good luck on your season!
Now that Papelbon has expressed his desire to remain a closer for the rest of his career, could we potentially see Craig Hansen get traded? Since Hansen was being groomed for the closer role wouldn't it make sense to maximize his value by trading him? Could the Todd Helton talks come back on the table? Keep up the good work.
Josh Wasserteil, Portland, Ore.
A: Josh, that's not an unreasonable proposition, though I think an effective Hansen could make a major impact as a setup man. Think back on the Yankees about a decade ago, when Mariano Rivera was setup man to John Wetteland. Not too shabby, no?
Do pitchers in Japan hit or is there a DH?
Joshua Jacoby, Natick
A: Joshua, it's just like in the major leagues. One league uses the DH, the other doesn't. Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched in the Pacific League, which uses the DH, but word is he's a good hitter. He hit a home run last season. Francona has ordered him not to swing. "Daisuke told me he finds that boring," Francona said.
Gordon, Thanks for the great mailbag even if all the complainers about Manny and the press seem to be hogging it up lately. I know it's a very long way off, but I've been hearing that the Sox may try to sign Ichiro after this season when he becomes a free agent. Although I would love to have him on the team, where do we put him? I've only seen him play right field and, forgive me if I'm wrong, but didn't we just sign Drew to a very expensive long term contract? Who would play where? Thanks, in advance, for answering.
Cindy Dunn, Milford, N.H.
A: Cindy, both Ichiro and Drew could play center field, with Drew probably the one more likely to move over if the Sox made such a move. It will make for juicy speculation all summer, especially given Ichiro's friendship with Dice-K.
I read the Globe Red Sox coverage every day, and I've not seen a feature article on the new pitching coach, covering his career in baseball, and delving in to his strengths, weaknesses, and his philosophy of the game. If such a piece has been written, would you please email me a link? Otherwise, would you suggest it to your team of beat writers? Thank you. I rarely get to a game, but I see them all on the radio up here deep in Red Sox Nation.
Spiros Polemis, Stockton Springs, Maine
A: Spiros, we had two pieces on Farrell when he was hired last October, one by Nick Cafardo (10/17, Globe) and one that I wrote (10/14 Globe), which delved into his background, but I think it's a topic definitely worth revisiting. Dave Magadan, the new hitting coach, new first base coach Luis Alicea and bullpen coach Gary Tuck are all worth a look, too. We'll get there. I promise.
Hey Gordon, I enjoy your work on the Red Sox, you have the best job in the world don't you!? Anyways, I grew up in MASS. and my daughter's middle name is Fenway, she was a world series baby. I do believe we are in the midst of the glory days, never again will we see another David Ortiz, and he is not possible without the bat of the much maligned Manny Ramirez. Did he really quit last year or was he merely protecting himself when it was obvious the season was over. Can we give him a break please. He will be missed and appreciated when he is gone, many Red Sox fans have turned arrogant since 2004, myself included for a little while, and lets not forget that Manny was World Series MVP, he's not a criminal, he's not on drugs (hopefully), he doesn't cause disturbances at night clubs, he seems like a mostly joyful presence, he is a human being and under tons of scrutiny all the time and he still performs. Yes, I think we pamper our superstars today but that is a fact we as fans simply have to accept, change with the times or stop enjoying your baseball life. I know I can't get the game out of my blood, and nor would I want to try, so why not just enjoy it for the beautiful game that it is, "ballet on grass" as my girlfriend describes it. Anyways, thanks for your time, life is good, the Red Sox are awesome, tough imperfect as all things, and we are poised, on paper, to make a run at another championship, what else could be better, it's Spring, the greatest time of the year, and baseball is coming, did it ever leave?
Shane Sayers-Couzyn, Richmond, Va.
A: Hey, Shane, I had to publish your letter for no other reason than your daughter's middle name. Thank God the Sox didn't play in Ameriquest Field when they won the World Series. All the positive things you say about Manny, no quarrel here. I enjoy your passion.
It was nice to see Bellhorn playing yesterday (3/17) - though I barely recognized him all cleaned up. I'd rather gotten used to him reminding me of a certain Geico commercial character (no, not the lizzard).
As I waxed nostalgic about his time here, I started wondering: whatever happened to Pokey Reese? He was brilliant at short when healthy...Thanks for your time -- love your work.
Lisa K. M. Stroup, Lynn
A: Lisa, there was a lot to like about Pokey, wasn't there? He went AWOL on the Marlins last spring three weeks into camp, and was released shortly thereafter. Pokey had rib and shoulder problems-surgery on his shoulder robbed him of that great throwing arm-and he had more than his share of personal tragedy. He isn't in camp with anyone this season, to my knowledge.
Did you read the Schilling post with the "Media Sucks" headline before you wrote about it? It was pretty clear the heading was a joke, although apparently enough people missed it that Schilling posted the following in his next entry:
"For any of you newbs that didn't get it, "The Media Sucks" was tongue in cheek. I assumed that went without saying, but obviously that was a mistaken assumption. While I certainly have issues with some, there are some pretty cool people in the sports media. Like any profession there are bad eggs but there are more good ones than bad ones in my opinion." Does that make you feel better?
Jo McKee, Mason, Ohio
A: Jo, I can go on living again. Thanks.
With Andruw Jones, Torii Hunter, and Ichiro on the market next year, with Coco under contract through 2009, and with Jacob Ellsbury progressing so well, who will play CF for the Sox next year?
Don Brushaber, Inver Grove Heights, Minn.
A: Great question. If I had to bet, I'd say...Jacoby Ellsbury. But those are powerful options you mention, especially Jones.
Love what you're writing here, and I always look forward to the mailbag--it's good to hear the relatively unfiltered opinions of a media member who's at least somewhat in the know. Two things: 1. As I'm sure many have already told you, Curt Schilling doesn't think you suck. The blog post entitled "The Media Sucks" was a tongue-in-cheek thing, which you would have known if you read the first word of it--"Gotcha." 2. Here's the actual question: if Dustin Pedroia falters, who's going to play second? I don't think there are any great middle infield prospects in the minors, and the idea of 150 games of Alex Cora doesn't excite me. Would the Sox make a move at that point, or is there an in-house solution of which I'm not aware?
Mike Geiger, Middleboro
A: Mike, Yes, Curt was tongue in cheek, though he has said similar things in all seriousness. He has on numerous other occasions cited the fact that there are media people he respects, most notably people like Jayson Stark of ESPN.com and Tom Verducci of SI, two of the very best in our business. Wouldn't it be fair to give Pedroia a chance to succeed before we designate his replacement? You're right, though; there's no big league -- ready prospect in the system.
Who in Red Sox Nation doesn't love Kevin Millar? Not only is he still a decent player, but he brought that certain 'idiot' dynamic that made the 2004 team so special. So why isn't there more talk about bringing him back on board and letting him work his laid back, idiot magic? Millar may not be 100%, but he helps bring 100% out of the guys around him, and isn't that just as valuable?
Jared Onorato, Williamsburg, Va.
A: Jared, I always found Millar to be fun to be around. He was one of a kind, and didn't lose sight of his independent-league roots. But when his numbers dipped, there were plenty of Sox fans who ripped him as a tired act, which deeply hurt him.
One name I have not heard mentioned ONCE this entire sping is Abe Alvarez. How did he so completely fall off the radar? Have the Red Sox given up on him? Does he have any trade value anymore?
Justin Nardin, New York City
A: Sox took him off the 40-man roster this fall, and he was an early cut this spring. His trade value is very limited.
I'm a big fan of your columns, mailbag and NESN appearances. I've never written in before, but one thing in your most recent mailbag struck a chord with me.
I didn't think your shot at Curt Schilling for his blog title "Why the Media Sucks" was warranted. If you actually read the post, the first line is "Gotcha!" and the entry itself is not really focused on the media for the most part (there are references to the media's take on his contract talks, but nothing overly derogatory). The title was written largely in sarcasm (hence the "Gotcha" opening), and fittingly so given that Schill has gotten criticism in some circles of the media for his blog, which brings me to my point.
I think it's fantastic that Curt has reached out to the fans in this way, and find it kind of amusing that certain media members have lashed out at him for it. There is no logical reason why he should NOT connect directly with the fans if he is willing to put in that kind of time. It seems to me that these critics are just worried that he's cutting on the middle man (i.e. the media), which the internet has done in many industries over the last couple decades. The media will just have to learn to compete in this environment, and honestly there probably isn't much to worry about because I don't think too many athletes are going to be putting in the kind of time that Schilling has been for this blog. I enjoy the blog, but I also still read every sports article in the Globe every day (and I don't even live in Boston anymore!). So I think there's a place for both.
I'm not accusing you here, cause I don't think you have denounced Schill's blog in general the way that some have. I'm just pointing out that there is really no reason to jump on this bandwagon by accusing him of "sinking" to some lower level for something that was little more than a sarcastic remark on his part. The article itself I felt was a fair assessment of how he viewed the facts, and while there was an undertone suggesting that he was not pleased with the media portrayal of the contract situation, I don't think he crossed any lines by stating his side of things.
I would also be curious what your general thoughts are on players blogging or chatting online with fans and what impact this has or could have on traditional media. If I get my technical baseball talk from Schilling's blog, are traditional journalists even more relegated to celebrity gossip type articles (another topic alluded to in your last mailbag)?
Don Robinson, Savannah, Ga.
A: Don, I think Schill is probably in the vanguard of something that will become increasingly popular in sports. The only other big-time baseball player I know of who blogs is Barry Bonds, but Schill's is exhaustive, at least so far. He had a 6,000-word entry the other day, and I certainly recognize its appeal to fans-he gives detailed, usually insightful answers to their questions, and offers a lot of inside-baseball stuff that only a player could offer. I agree with you: There is a place for such blogs. I think Curt is smart enough to avoid using the blog to create controversy inside the clubhouse. He's not going to use it as a forum to rip people. I wonder if he'll be able to devote as much time to it in the season-he's raised the same issue-and while you may see me make an occasional crack about it in print, I think he'll attract a lot of eyeballs, and for good reason.