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.
If Mike Lowell continues to struggle at the plate, albeit spring training, what are the Sox' options, if any?
Jack Reed, Pensacola, Fla.
A: Jack, the good news for Sox fans is that Lowell ended spring training swinging a much better bat than he'd shown earlier (he actually hit .327 for all of spring training), and hit his first home run of spring in that Little League field in Philly. Historically, Lowell has had lousy springs, then gotten off to a fast start; that wasn't the case last season, when he buried himself early and never came out of it. Signing Hee Seop Choi was one hedge against a total collapse by Lowell; the Sox could move Kevin Youkilis across the diamond and promote Choi, though Choi has big holes in his swing and is subpar defensively. If third base is a black hole come the trading deadline, it's not a stretch to think the Sox would take another run at Aubrey Huff, who has returned to playing third for the D-Rays.
Gordon, thanks for brining back the mailbag; Boston.com and the mailbag are my links to the Red sox from here in Florida. Please, please, please, how do we get everyone to quit talking about Johnny "looks like Jesus, throws like Mary, acts like Judas" Damon? He's gone, get over it. I could care less what he has to say from Yankee land. I can't believe people can't let it go...Coco will make them all forget soon enough!
David LeDuc, Niceville, Fla.
A: David, Coco couldn't have done more than he did in spring training, when he led the club with an average over .430 and not only handled the extra media attention a player gets in Boston, but genuinely seemed to enjoy it and thrive on it. You do know, however, that Crisp doesn't have a cannon for an arm, either. I know a few Mary's -- and at least one Vanessa (who works for the Sox) -- who can out-throw both of 'em.
What exactly were the rules in MLB about steroid use in the 1990s? I
hear a lot of people arguing that what Barry Bonds supposedly did was OK, because
steroids weren't against the rules when he apparently did them. I thought
steroids were banned in the early 1990s. Is this true?
Ryan Frazer, Claremont, Calif.
A: While the federal government identified steroids as an illegal controlled substance in the early '90s and commissioner Fay Vincent sent a letter to all clubs in 1991 stipulating that steroid use was banned in baseball, it wasn't until late in 2002 that baseball agreed to a steroid-testing policy, negotiated between the players and owners as part of the collective bargaining agreement. That agreement was widely ridiculed by critics as hopelessly weak -- most players were tested just once, and the tests were anonymous, so no penalties could be imposed on any players that tested positive. Because 7 percent of the players tested positive -- enough to fill the rosters of two teams, and exceeding the 5 percent threshold agreed upon -- stiffer penalties went into effect: a 10-game ban for one positive test, a one-year ban for four positive tests. But under intense pressure from Congress, last November MLB and the players union agreed to Bud Selig's three strikes and you're out proposal: 50 games for one failed test, 100 games for two, a lifetime ban for a third.
I urge anyone with an interest in the subject to read "Game of Shadows,'' the landmark work done by two San Francisco Chronicle reporters, Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, on the BALCO scandal. I finished reading the book while flying to Texas for the opener, and it reveals in exhaustive detail how steroids, designer steroids, and human growth hormone all made their way into the world of Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, and lesser players. While the book is narrow in its focus, sticking to the BALCO scandal, I finished reading it with the feeling that Ken Caminiti, the late Padres star, probably was not exaggerating when he said half of the players in the game were steroid users. I lament not having known more about the subject earlier, so that I would have brought a much greater sense of skepticism to the remarkable physical transformations that were taking place before our eyes.
Love the chats Gordon! Freezing up here in Yankee territory, I had a few questions:
1. Edgar Martinez -- how much promise does the converted catcher have, and when is he projected to help on the big league level?
2. Is Ian Bladergroen, the first baseman acquired from the Mets for Dougie (World
Series ball-napper), still a prospect? Is he fully healed from the wrist injury? Does the front office have any big expectations for Ian?
Johnny Mac, Short Hills, NJ
A: J. Mac, Martinez is still pretty raw, but the Sox are excited about his potential. He'll start the season in Portland but is expected to move up quickly to Pawtucket and has an outside shot at making the big club. Bladergroen was used as an extra player by the Sox in a handful of exhibition games this spring, but I believe the Sox still have concerns that he's not the same player he was before the wrist injury.
Hi Gordon, your work is always legit, thank you. Listen, about the Sox
first base situation, do you think that they might go out and get the all of a
sudden most popular Seung Yeop Lee (Korea's first baseman)? He's only 26 and I heard Joe
Morgan talk about his hitting and compared him to Ichiro but with more power. I
can't see why the Sox wouldn't go after him if they think highly of him. Have
you heard anything regarding this? If they do go after him, are they going to
have to beat out the Evil Empire again?
Frank Iparraguirre, Miami
A: Frank, great suggestion -- Seung Yeop Lee put on quite the show in the WBC, with five home runs in his first five games. I believe he's 29. He played eight seasons in the Korean league, and five times in nine seasons playing for the Samsung Lions he was named MVP of the Korean League. Before the '05 season, the Dodgers tried to sign him, but instead he signed with the Chiba Lotte Marines, Bobby Valentine's team in Japan, and hit 30 home runs. This winter, he signed with another Japanese team, the legendary Yomuiri Giants, so he won't be coming Stateside any time soon.
Gordon, love the columns and miss the pregame talks out west. The talk
surrounding Craig Hansen, Manny Delcarmen, and Edgar Martinez makes it sound like the Sox have three
future power arm closers. I know Delcarmen, though coming off Tommy John, has
started in the past and Hansen who could be a lights out closer, also has 3 plus
pitches that could convert well to the rotation. I was wondering whether there
was any thought in the organization towards shifting one back to a starter,
because adding another young arm to the Josh Beckett/Jonathan Papelbon/Jon Lester triad could
create a monster rotation for years.
Zac, San Diego
A: You know, Zac, I thought that might be the case with Hansen, but that is definitely not part of the blueprint right now, and the plan is to stay with Delcarmen in the 'pen as well. Hansen-Delcarmen could well be your closer-setup man of the very near future.
When will the Red Sox honor their greatest right fielder ever? No, not Dwight Evans but Harry Hooper. He played before numbers were issued but deserves some recognition in right field. Give HH his due.
John Carrabino, Burlington
A: John, I might have take your suggestion to my Sunday column. We're closing in on the 100th anniversary of his debut with the Sox (1909). In the 11 years he was the Sox leadoff man, he had an on-base average of .403, which would have had Theo salivating. In 1915, he became the first player to hit two home runs in a single Series game, and he is the team's all-time leader in triples (130) and stolen bases (300). The Hall of Fame Veterans Committee voted him into Cooperstown in 1971, and you know what, his career was too good to be lost to the mists of history.
I did some homework on Graffanino's and Cora's fielding stats. You can bet Theo did
the same. Cora, according to the (sabr.) numbers is only marginally better than
Graff. in the field. With Graff. being the superior hitter do you think the
trade Tony talk could be a smokescreen while the real trade would involve Cora?
Terry Mitchell, Glenburn, Maine
A: Well, we now know that's not the case, Terry, Graffanino having been claimed on waivers by the Royals. I'm not sure what your research entailed, but my eyes tell me that Cora is far superior defensively at short than Graffanino, a position he could not play with any regularity at this stage of his career.
Why are people angry that Tito got an extension? He managed us to our
first World Series title in 86 years! He's made the playoffs both years as manager
and lost the division last yr to a tie break. He had one of the worst bullpens
in baseball last year and a hurting rotation but still managed to win 97 games.
People need to embrace Tito, they run every other manager out of town. I like
him and wish we took a chance on him a couple of years earlier instead of Grady Little.
A: Greg, gotta tell you, I can't vouch for the temperature of Sox fans in Chicago, but I didn't hear too much sniping here about Tito re-upping. I think after all the bizarre stuff that went on in the front office, folks didn't mind seeing a little stability in the dugout, especially given all the changes on the roster, too. Some continuity has to be a good thing.