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.
I know it's a bit early to throw up the white flag, but I don't know about the Red Sox offense this year. After not being able to score more than a run off of the immortal Gil Meche, I am a bit nervous about our lineup (all right, I was before the season, but this cemented it for me). Sure, Ortiz and Manny Ramirez will be better, we know that. J.D. Drew will provide some pop if he remains healthy (I doubt he'll be as injury prone as everyone says), but after that it's not looking so hot. Mike Lowell is coming off a great season that he's not likely to repeat, people are putting too much stock into Coco Crisp, who I think can't play here. Julio Lugo -- we have yet to really see, but three strikeouts on Opening Day isn't comforting. Jason Varitek, I hate to admit it, but I think is done offensively (although, without a doubt still a team leader and the brains behind the pitching), Kevin Youkilis will be solid, and Pedroia looked good, but other than Ortiz and Ramirez (and a little bit Drew) we're weak in the lineup. Is there any chance we renew talks for Todd Helton?
Jon, you're not kidding about being too early to run up the white flag. We're one game into the season! The Sox are going to give this lineup a chance before they make a major move like the Helton deal, although that is certainly something that could be addressed at the trading deadline if your analysis proves correct. Personally, I think this lineup is going to score runs in bunches. Sure, there's reason to have questions about the bottom of the order, but let's not write anybody off just yet.
I know we are supposed to give Dustin Pedroia his time and a chance to prove his value, but with the possibility of Jorge Cantu being available wouldn't that seem to be an upgrade with the possibility of it being a very big upgrade?
Thomas Parsons, Natrona Heights, Pa.
Thomas, I suppose it's tempting to go after a guy who hit 28 home runs, 40 doubles and knocked in 117 runs just two years ago, But Cantu's defense is a real issue, and last year he struggled offensively, due in some measure to a broken foot. The Red Sox believe in Pedroia for a reason; I think it makes more sense to see what he can do. The Sox have in the past talked to the Rays about him, but I suspect Tampa wouldn't be wild about trading him within the division, even if the Sox showed interest.
Gordon -- Not much has been made of the fact the Sox really did not hit well as a team this spring. I know everyone says it's only spring training but many of the low batting averages had to be cause for concern. Now that Opening Day in KC is over and done with I saw Sox batters strike out 10 times. My question is this -- why was Papa Jack let go as hitting instructor when he seemed so popular among the players -- especially David Ortiz? Anyone who can somehow help Wily Mo Pena hit .301 should get a hefty pay raise. Instead Papa Jack gets fired? What happened?
Mike Mihalik, Allentown, Pa.
Mike, the Red Sox never went into detail about their reasons why Ron Jackson (Papa Jack) was let go. He was very popular among some players, such as Ortiz, but sometimes teams like a fresh set of eyes and a new set of opinions. The Sox changed both their pitching coach and hitting coach in the offseason. Papa Jack is now with the Astros, working with their Triple-A club. One of the nicest men in the game, hands down.
Hey Gordo, that was a rough way to open the season. You know I like to bounce things off you ... sort of a "voice of reason" thing when certain things just don't make sense. I need help with this one. Why do the Sox seem inclined to stick with ineffective pitchers when it's clear they are struggling and can't get outs? Is the salary that has been committed that important in the decision process? Time and time again, I have watched the Sox bring in a guy (think Rudy Seanez) who is woeful at best, with predictable results. I don't care how much the guy makes. If he can't get guys out, send him to Pawtucket until he gets it together, and try some different arms. So far, Joel Piniero looks like he is going to be that guy this year, but at $4 million, I am afraid he will get the ball often, even if he stinks.
Larry D., Allentown, Pa.
First of all, certain guys you can't send down to Pawtucket without putting them on waivers first. Second, good middle relief is hard to come by, and a bit of a crapshoot, but if Pineiro flames out, I don't think the Sox will hang on to him, not when Manny Delcarmen, Craig Hansen, Bryan Corey, among others, are all down in Pawtucket.
Gordon, no questions. I just want to thank you for the terrific write-up today on each of the players plus Terry and the coaches. Also the one on John Henry's offseason risk-taking. Insightful and well written. Thanks again.
Creighton Abrams, Springfield, Va.
Creighton, thanks for the good word. A shout-out goes to one of my editors, Ken Fratus, who each year does a fabulous job putting together our baseball special section and all its bells and whistles. This year, Daigo Fujiwara, a Globe graphics designer, did outstanding work, not only with the Dice-K graphics, but in volunteering his assistance with reporters in contacting people in Japan, translating, you name it. He was huge, and I publicly thank him.
Gordo thanks for answering my other question about the Wily Mo trade. I'm here though to talk about Youkilis. In my opinion, he has been the least talked about Sox player this spring and I don't get it. Last year we had to have J.T. Snow on the team in case he couldn't handle the job full time and Snow was cut by the end of June because we couldn't get him ABs. Everyone seems to be forgetting that last year was his first full one in the majors and he was great. He did slow down at the end of the year but he had never played more then 102 games and that was in '04 at three stops. He was in 45 more games then ever before and had about 150 more plate appearances then ever. I see him hitting about .300 with about 20 homers and 100 walks in what actually is only his second full year. And his defense was really undervalued last year with Gonzo and Lowell getting all the defensive attention. Do you see what I see in him or do you think what he did last year is all he can do?
Jeff Epp, Wethersfield, Conn.
You'll probably be happy to pick up your morning paper Wednesday -- I've got a big Youkilis feature. He plays a big part in this team's success, and his defense -- as Alex Cora pointed out in one of my stories this spring -- ranks with the AL's best-fielding first baseman.
This mailbag is great and I respect and admire your feedback when ever I read the 'bag. Anyhow, what do you think the chances are of Coco getting traded during the regular season and a big run at either Andruw Jones or Ichiro? Could you imagine that type of outfield?
Pedro Rivera, Bronx, NY
Pedro, we'll hear a lot of talk about those guys this summer and probably through the winter, too. The Mariners would have to be absolutely persuaded that Ichiro won't come back before they thought to move him at the deadline, while I expect the Braves to be in the hunt for a playoff spot, which would also seem to rule out a midseason deal.
If the commissioner's office won't allow Johnny Pesky to be a coach on the bench why don't they hire him to be with Jerry Remy and the TV crew part time during the game and coach the rest of the time. It will break his heart. The Red Sox are his life at 87 years old.
Gil Ferri, Andover
It really is a shame that is being taken away from JP, although it's not as harsh as the previous edict under the Dan Duquette regime, which bounced JP off the field altogether at Fenway. JP will still be able to have a place in the clubhouse and be on the field during BP; he'll just have to sit elsewhere during the games. I hope that doesn't break his heart ... we need him to stick around!
Hi, Gordon. So glad that the season is here. The question that I have is mainly for Major League Baseball. I would think that they would have better things to do than take a gentleman like Johnny Pesky off the bench and out of a dugout that he has been a fixture for so long. I just think that they just want to show that they are in control as always. Is there anything that we can do to get him back in the dugout where he belongs. Maybe a petition with signatures to present to Major League Baseball to get him back? He must be really hurt by this and it would be nice to let him know that there are fans that think this is an awful injustice that has been done to him. For a man that has been in the game for 57 years or longer, I for one think that they have no heart at all and this could not be a healthy thing for Johnny to be away from the boys on the bench. There has to be something that someone can do about it. Maybe a vote by the teams to have a say into the matter. He cannot be the only one going through this. Johnny belongs on the bench, not in some back room somewhere. He is such an asset to the game. Let's try to help him get back to where he belongs on the bench.
Linda Wallingford, Farmington, NH
Linda, I know it makes Johnny feel good to know there are people like yourself who care so much about him. I think his plan is to lay low for awhile, see how this plays out. The Sox say they've objected; maybe MLB will reconsider. But in the meantime, think of the ovation JP will get when he's introduced on Opening Day.
Minor league question for you Gordon. What does the front office think of Kason Gabbard? When he was with the club last year I believe he pitched pretty well, and most certainly did not "fail" in his initial season in the majors. He seems like he could be a serviceable pitcher for the Red Sox, especially since he had a pretty good spring. What are the chances we will be seeing him taking a regular turn in the Sox rotation next year? I doubt that we would see him for more than a spot start this year since we have Jon Lester and possibly Roger Clemens ready to jump in should one or two of the current five go down. If you don't see him in the rotation next year, do you see him as trade bait? I hope the Sox keep him. I'd hate to see another Anibal Sanchez type of situation -- Sox trade a near ML pitcher away and he throws a no-hitter that year. Thanks for your input.
Rick Kowalczyk, Windsor
Rick, Kason did a nice job under tough circumstances last season, and if 2006 taught us anything, it is that you win in the big leagues with more than a 12-man pitching staff. Gabbard will take a regular turn in the Pawtucket rotation, and while I agree that Lester will get first call, the Sox feel good about having Gabbard as an option if someone goes down.
Has there been any thought given to having the Red Sox play a few "spring training" games at Fenway like the Phillies? It would seem like just the idea the ownership would love, they would be able to squeeze two more "gates" in. Weather could be a factor but Philly isn't exactly Bora Bora in late March and they seem to be doing just fine playing a few preseason games there.
Steve Walch, Brighton
Steve, as eager as fans are to see the Sox, do you really want to see them freeze their butts off watching the regulars take an at-bat or two? Can't see that happening, not when they can get a nice payday on the road (the Phils paid them $350,000).
Where will Daniel Bard be pitching this season?
Bill Murphy, Bel Alton, Md.
Bill, the plan is for Bard, the team's top draft choice, to start the season in Class A Lancaster in the California League.
My question is a good one for the team. I just watched a show about a guy who bought Shoeless Joe Jackson's house and moved it next to the town's new minor league field. The show had the guy who was the 1999 No. 1 overall pick, the guy that was picked before Josh Beckett. The kid's name was Josh Hamilton. I understand that he is banned as for now but could the Sox go after him and take a chance that he would be allowed back in the game? I notice he is allowed back into extended spring training. What's your thought? The kid's got LOTS of talent.
You'll probably be happy to hear that Josh Hamilton is in the big leagues with the Cincinnati Reds. They took him in the Rule 5 draft from Tampa Bay, and he had a tremendous spring, batting .403. He made the club and on Tuesday, made his big-league debut, entering the game as a pinch hitter. He lined out to left, but got a huge ovation from the Cincinnati crowd. He had a lot of drug problems, but the Reds gave him a fresh start and so far he's taking full advantage of it. This is what teammate Adam Dunn said after Hamilton played Tuesday, "That was awesome," Dunn said. "I've never seen anyone that excited in my life. He deserves every single bit of it, if not more. It's good to see. He's such a good guy."
Are the Red Sox planning on doing any commemoration/celebration of the 40th anniversary of my formative 1967 "Impossible Dream" Red Sox? My first walk up the tunnel was in '65 as an 8 year old. But '67 was radio "Solid Gold!" John Henry and Co. have done an exemplary job bringing back Loooie and Freddie Lynn to the ballpark. What have you heard from the Yaz, Lonborg, Reggie Smith, Boomer, Rico, Mike Andrews group? To dream...the impossible dream...
Paul Connolly, Falconer, NY
Paul, not to worry, Dr. Charles Steinberg is planning quite the extravaganza to honor the '67 club. It should be something to remember ... and you may even get to hear the song.
Editor's note: Join Gordon Edes of The Boston Globe, his special guests, as well as fellow members of Red Sox Nation at the 3rd Gordon Edes and Friends NYC event on Saturday, April 28, from 9 p.m. to midnight at Foley's NY Pub and Restaurant at 18 West 33rd Street in New York City. Click here for more information.