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.
Gordon, I've been a 'bagger from the beginning, and love your work. So here we are, the start of another season, and I've got to say I'm having a hard time getting excited. For years, we've been able to hope that this is the year, that things will finally be different, yet knowing in our hearts that our beloved Sox would find a new way to let us down. But now, what can they possibly do to top last year? Even if they win 110 games and breeze to another Series win, it can't come close to the drama of last year. If it had been a movie, people would have walked out because it was so corny. Coming back from 3-0 against the Yankees, with Millar's "Don't let us win" prediction, completely unrealistic. What do you think, will their the intensity still be there for the fans and players, or have the Red Sox lost some of their mystique by finally winning?
Mark, Edina, Minn.
A: Mark, always great to hear from an original bagger. You raise a question we're all eager to see answered, and one that none of us has experience with, since this hasn't happened before in our lifetimes. How will the Sox and their fans handle success? Outwardly, anyway, the enthusiasm of the fans would appear to be at an all-time high. The Sox drew record crowds in spring training, season-ticket sales are capped and there's a waiting list, and good luck finding a ticket to the Fens this summer.
Will they care as fiercely as they did before the Sox won it all? Who among us really knows? Will fans be like Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca saying, ''We'll always have Paris,'' after the realization comes that their affair will never be what it was? Will fans set their alarms in the middle of the night to find out if the Sox won on the Coast that night? Or did last year's comeback for the ages make fans greedy for more?
As for the players, they've never experienced the level of adulation they're getting now. Johnny Damon is a rock star now; will that take off the edge for him, or will he be Springsteen, leaving it all on the stage night after night? We really don't know. The one thing we do know is that last year, regardless of how the Sox play, can never be duplicated. Championships can be won again, but only once can you end 86 years of famine.
Have the Sox set their rotation yet? I'm going to Toronto next weekend for the Saturday game and was wondering who might be throwing. Also wanted to add my thanks for the piece on Dick Radatz; I was a little too young to have a good memory of him so the recap was appreciated.
David, Jamesville, NY
A: David, the Sox pitching plans for the weekend are as follows: Bronson Arroyo, who pitched one of his best games of the year last May 15 in Toronto -- 3 hits allowed in 8 scoreless innings in a 4-0 win -- will pitch Friday night in the Jays' home opener. David Wells, twice a Blue Jay, will go Saturday, with Matt Clement due to follow on Sunday.
I was 10 years old when Dick Radatz was at the height of his fame as the Monster, and shocked along with everyone else when he gave up a home run to Johnny Callison of the Phillies that decided the '64 All-Star Game. I got to know Dick some through his radio work and when he was coaching in Lynn, and appreciated his contributions to the game. Speaking with his former teammates like Jerry Moses and Bill Monbouquette, it was obvious that he was a good friend, and fun to be around.
Hey Gordon, how you doing? How long do you see Mike Myers here, with Wade Miller coming back in mid May? There wont be a spot in the pitching rotation for him unless the red sox go 12 pitchers deep. Another question if Matt Mantei get re-injured do you see them trying to acquire Octavio Dotel of the Oakland Athletics? Last question do you believe that Matt Mantei can perform in October? If you look at his playoff numbers he hasn't done it.
A: Luis, good to hear from the North Shore ... ever have breakfast at the Landing? If you go in there, say hi to Manny the cook for me. He's a huge Sox fan. I can tell you this about Mike Myers: Terry Francona was pushing for Theo to get him, or someone like him, all spring. He loves having a situational lefty, a guy who can come in and get one hitter, even if it's in the sixth inning. Francona had Myers enter the game on Opening Night in the fifth inning with the Sox down 4-1, and Myers got Tony Womack to hit into an inning-ending double play. I don't think Myers will be impacted if Wade Miller proves healthy and joins the rotation. I suspect a guy like Blaine Neal will be back in the minors, with the Sox shifting Bronson Arroyo or, possibly, Tim Wakefield to the bullpen.
If Billy Beane decides to move Octavio Dotel, a possibility since Huston Street appears to have all the makings of a closer, there will be a lot of teams (Cubs, Mets) lined up to make a run at him. Those clubs, which need a closer, are apt to offer more for Dotel than the Sox, who would use him as a setup man. It certainly bears watching.
I don't think you can judge how Matt Mantei would fare in the postseason based on his limited experience in October. That walkoff home run he gave up to Todd Pratt of the Mets in the '99 postseason happened nearly six years ago, while his forgettable appearance in the 2002 postseason (two runs on a hit and walk in a third of inning against the Cardinals) came in a year he was still recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery.
Hey, Keith Foulke had a lousy postseason record before last season, and he was unhittable for the Sox in October.
Thanks for the prompt answer to my question last month. I wonder if you could provide a little insight into another issue that's been nagging at me. Recently, I read an article about how the A's had retooled their rotation, bringing up a number of great young pitchers, and allowing them to let expensive talent like Mulder and Hudson leave. My question is, do the Sox have any similar prospects and if not, why can't we develop pitching talent the way Billy Beane seems to be able to? Except for Arroyo, I can't remember the last time we had a good pitcher come up through the ranks. And I think we may have traded for him at some point.
Larry, Allentown, Pa.
A: Larry, first of all, you're right about Arroyo not having come up through the Sox system; Theo claimed him on waivers from the Pirates in 2003. The Sox obviously haven't had a homegrown pitcher in some time that has had the impact of Oakland's Big Three (Barry Zito, Mark Mulder, and Tim Hudson), and Billy Beane, who dealt Mulder and Hudson last winter, is reloading with kids like Rich Harden and Joe Blanton. The good pitchers the Sox have had, they've been inclined to trade them, guys like Carl Pavano and Tony Armas Jr. and to a lesser degree, Tomo Ohka. The A's in some ways have done a better job of targeting good arms in the draft, but there's also a measure of luck involved, too. The Sox had a terrific prospect named Andy Yount in the mid-90s who threw in the high '90s and reminded people of the Rocket; he sliced the tendon in his pitching hand and was never the same. More recently, the Sox had West Roxbury's Manny Delcarmen making a rapid rise through the system; he hurt his arm and had Tommy John surgery, which has delayed his ETA. But there are some kids in the system now that have the Sox excited, like:
Will any of these kids be world-beaters? Maybe not, but they all have a chance to pitch in the big leagues, and at least one of them could blossom.
Sorry we won't see y'all down here in the Peach State this year, but I'll be traveling to Tampa and Dallas to see the Sox, and I'd like to know if I'm going to see a team on fire or lax after winning the title. They have to know that fans are going to give them leeway no matter what happens the next year or two, so will they shrug off any criticism and losses?
A: Jeff, as a one-time resident of Lawrenceville, I'm sorry that we won't be coming your way this summer -- why don't you come up our way when the Braves visit Fenway May 20-22? Honestly, can you see a team with competitors like Curt Schilling and Jason Varitek and David Ortiz and Billy Mueller caring any less this season, and shrugging off defeats? To me, that's ignoring their professionalism. If the Sox don't win this year, it's likely to be more because their pitching wasn't good enough or they had a couple of big injuries, or simply because the Yankees were better, than a dropoff in effort. I mean, it's true that a team might not have as great a sense of urgency, but remember, last year's club played .500 ball for almost three months before everything fell into place, Theo made a couple of big deals, and the team went on a tear. Am I contradicting myself here? I don't think so. I'm just acknowledging that while it's conceivable this club might not feel the same type of urgency they did a year ago, I don't think it's likely with the type of personalities this team has.
Besides: It's more fun to win.
What kind of numbers are we expecting from Trot Nixon? ... and will injuries play a significant role in his contributions this year?
A: Jesse, I think the Red Sox project Trot to hit 25 to 30 home runs, knock in 85-95 runs, and hit in the .280-.300 range. His back, by all accounts is fine, so health shouldn't be an issue.
Something I never thought about asking until now. I've always assumed that a player was placed in the minors based on capability. If Hanley Ramirez is as capable as everyone says (I absolutely flipped when I saw that triple play on TV), why Portland, Maine (where I went to college) and not with the PawSox, just one step below the Bigs?
Michael, Bartonsville, Pa.
A: Mike C, the Sox wanted to give your old college buddies something to do this summer. Seriously, it's a matter of not rushing the kid. Ramirez is still just 21, and while he was promoted to Portland at the end of last season and played well, I think the Sox want him to have more everyday experience at the Double-A level before promoting him another rung. And remember, Double-A has become the best barometer of a player's success, with Triple A teams more often that not populated by fringe big leaguers rather than top prospects. I do expect Ramirez to be promoted to Triple-A sooner than later, and if a need arises, could see the big club summon him before the summer is out. He appears to be the real deal, in all areas of his game.
Gordon ... I'm excited about this Adam Stern kid! When does his Rule 5 status end, meaning, when can he be sent down and not have to go back to the Braves, or when can he be traded? After the season?... Also, what is Darren Lewis doing these days? He's one of my all-time favorite Sox. Seems like he'd make a great skipper in the minors, or even a good major league boss. Thank you for taking my question.
A: Jim, because of Stern's thumb injury, he starts the season on the DL, which buys the Sox some time before they have to make a decision whether to return him to the Braves or keep him on their major-league roster all season. Stern, with his speed, would give the Sox a dimension they lost when they traded Dave Roberts to the Padres, but it will be some time before he can play.
Gordon, reading your mailbag today and someone asked about the possibilities of trading a Rule 5 draft pick. You told him that a club could not do that they can only keep the player or offer him back to the former club for $25k. I always thought that the club has the right to trade a Rule 5 player, and the new club has the same rules on that player (either keep him on the 25 man roster or sell him back to the original club). I recall that there has been Rule 5 players traded in the past, though I can't remember the exact players or the details. Can you clarify?
A: Kevin, one example I can think of is Matt White, the lefty reliever from Western Mass. (Windsor) who was traded to Seattle, but only after the Sox had offered him back to Cleveland and the Tribe said, "That's OK, you keep him.''