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.
Am I the only Sox fan confused with the praise heaped on new hitting instructor Dave Magadan? The Sox, who used to strike fear in the hearts of opponents and were aggressive at the plate, have turned into pussycats. I would love to see the numbers on called first strikes and called third strikes this year as opposed to other years. I would bet it is WAY up. Start swinging the bats, fellas.
Doug Berlin, Jamestown, NY
A: Doug, ask and you shall receive. And I hope you didn't make any wagers. So far this season, there have been 347 called first strikes out of 1,053 pitches thrown when the count is 0-0. That's 33 percent. Last season, out of 6,452 first pitches, 2127 were called strikes. ... That's 33 percent.
This season, there have been 1,073 pitches thrown with two strikes. The Sox have taken 60 called third strikes, or 5.6 percent. In 2006, there were 6,998 two-strike pitches. The Sox took 286, or 4 percent, well within the range of where the Sox may end up in 2007.
Personally, I don't care about Roger Clemens coming to Boston. I agree with Julian Tavarez that we don't need him and I know you can never have too much pitching but is it fair that these guys are playing so well as a team and seem like probably the team to beat in the AL. ... Is there room for his ego? Do team dynamics ever play a part in this kind of decision and would you bring him back or let this play themselves out as is?
Joe Moniz, Dartmouth
A: Joe, I think if John Henry called a clubhouse meeting and said, 'Fellas, we have a chance to get Roger Clemens. All in favor, raise their hands.' I think everybody in the place would stick their hands in the air. If a man who arguably is the greatest pitcher who ever lived wants to help you win a World Series, you don't say, 'Never mind, we don't need you.' And I have yet to meet a guy, on any of the teams with which Roger played, who said that Roger wasn't a great teammate.
A Red Sox fan from Dublin, Ireland, but currently residing in Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania. The Nation is somewhat thin on the ground here but I have my 2004 Series highlights DVD to keep me going. This is my first time sending a letter to "The Bag" so naturally, I thought I'd focus on the hard issues. So ... is there any reason for so many of the players sporting such an array of strange facial hair arrangements? I saw a photo of Youkilis looking like he was getting ready to board a Viking longboat. Then I saw Jon Lester with a Beckett inspired 'smigeen'. Are they being sponsored by Gillette or just too much time on their hands? Thanks and I really enjoy reading "The Bag", it's very informative.
Seamus Hempenstall, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
A: Seamus, Gotta say, you're a man who knows how to get around. Because of you, we can now say even Tanzania has a 'Bagger. I don't know why so many of the fellas are inspired to make facial hair part of their repertoire. I know Youks said he plans to keep his beard as long as his girlfriend likes it, which is one of those universal truisms, I suspect, whether or not you play baseball. Could it be that it's to compensate for the fact their manager has none on the top of his head?
Knowing the Rockies are not going to be contenders in the NL, will the trade talks resume between the Rockies and Red Sox for Todd Helton, even thought Mike Lowell is having a great start?
Nate Burnett, Erving
A: Nate, seems to me the National League West is so wide open, even the Rockies figure they might have a chance. Helton is off to a fine start himself, and given the Red Sox were willing to do the deal this winter you've got to think they'd be all ears if the Rocks decide to try and move him again. But man, to decide Helton will still be productive for the remaining six years of his deal? If I'm the Sox, the Rocks would have to eat a big chunk of that contract for me to take that deal.
Gordon, you're the manager of the Boston Red Sox. What is one thing you would do differently that would positively impact the current team?
Vince Zabinski, Albany, NY
A: Vince, that's a pretty cool question ... I might have to use that in a blog one day and invite readers to respond. One thing that comes to mind -- and I apologize to all the snowbird Sox fans who have settled in southwest Florida -- is I would move spring training to Arizona to eliminate all the long bus rides in March. Of course, as manager I wouldn't have that authority, so I guess that's a bogus answer to your question. On the day-to-day management side, it's hard for me to come up with something that I would do differently from what Terry Francona does now. He talks to most every player every day, he gives them a heads up the night before if they're not playing, he's mindful of not burning guys in the bullpen by having them warm up if they're not going to pitch, he doesn't criticize his players in public, he keeps channels open with the GM. The things that he can control, he does very well. I'm going to have to give this one more thought, or see what our readers might suggest.
With all of the negative publicity around Barry Bonds (much deserved, by the way), I don't understand why NL pitchers aren't just giving him an intentional walk or at least throwing junk around the edges to him. If his peers truly hold him in contempt, why be an accomplice to his fraudulent march to the home run record? If I were a MLB pitcher, I'd be drilling him every time I faced him!
Peter Guglietta, Mt. Prospect, Ill.
A: Peter, you'd be getting ejected from an awful lot of games if you drilled him every time, and I don't know how you'd be helping your own club that way. The way Barry is hitting, I think you WILL see him get a lot more walks again, like he did when he was healthy a couple of years ago. And while I agree there's much to dislike about what my colleague, Dan Shaughnessy, so rightly calls a joyless march toward Henry Aaron's record, Bonds probably has been targeted with a disproportionate share of the blame for the Steroids Era -- he had lots of company. The question is whether we're talking about a handful or a boatload of fellow abusers, and my fear is that the answer lies in the bigger number.
Mr. Edes, what's the word lately on Clay Buchholz? If we (hopefully) figure that by June or so Lester will be in the five spot, and with Manny Delcarmen & Craig Hansen probably joining the bullpen whenever they're called up again, it seems like (ideally) they don't even need Buchholz at this point ... can we assume that the front office is planning on keeping him in Double/Triple-A this year, and perhaps figure that the earliest call-up would be in '08?
Josh LaCasse, Colchester, Vt.
A: Josh, I believe that is a reasonable assumption on your part, at least as it pertains to Buchholz. The Sox are thrilled with how he's pitching -- he took a perfect game into the seventh inning the other night for Portland -- but there's no reason to rush him to the big leagues. Both Hansen and Delcarmen, however, are still struggling in Pawtucket. Manny threw two wild pitches in the 10th inning that scored runs in a loss to Indianapolis, and his ERA is over 7. Hansen, meanwhile, has allowed 12 hits and 8 walks in just 10 innings.
Gordon, I must write to support the view of the writer who was not interested in Remy and Orsillo talking to "some guest" rather than reporting the game that is going on. It is rather frustrating to do that instead of reporting what is happening on the field, which is far more interesting to me.
Pris Haydon, Fairhaven
A: Pris, given the length and pace of games these days, isn't there time to do both? I don't get to watch them often, seeing how I'm at most games myself, but I've never felt Don or Jerry have left me to guess what's happening on the field. Count me in the camp who believe Sox fans are lucky to have these guys.
I was wondering do you think the Curse of Bambino was reversed onto the Yankees? As since they seem to have had a lot of hard luck since they announced that they were going to replace the house that Ruth built, Yankee Stadium.
David Bennett, Plymouth
A: David, That's a pretty novel theory, though it appears the Yanks have decided it's all the fault of their strength and conditioning guy, whom they fired this week.
From what I can see Charlie Zink is a good knuckleball pitcher. Why isn't he at the Triple-A level and exposing George Kottaras to the knuckleball in case the Sox want Kottaras to catch Tim Wakefield next year? I know you're saying it's too early to think about next year but I have big hopes that Kottaras will make the team in '08.
Sue Willard, Waltham
A: Sue, the Sox hope Kottaras will be ready to make the jump next season, too, but Terry Francona said it's better that Kottaras learn to play every day in Pawtucket rather than worry about the nuances of catching the knuckleball with Zink. For one thing, the organization has determined there are pitchers in Triple-A who are more deserving to be there than Zink; for another, Francona believes that no two knuckleballers are alike, and catching Zink would only have limited benefit in helping Kottaras to prepare for Wake.
I checked the numbers and Julio Lugo does not have any more power than Coco Crisp as I suggested in a previous letter. Their home runs are about equal. In fact, Coco has been the more prodigious swatter of the Big Flys, but I still like Coco leading off and Julio Lugo two. The alternate is what Tito is already doing, using Coco as a "second leadoff" with him batting eighth so he can set up the RBI man, Lugo. Why not just bat him first? Psychologically it would give the maligned (and WHY is THAT? Too much effort?) Crisp a tremendous boost instead of kicking him all the way down the order. Has he broken some unspoken rule to have had his leadoff spot taken away from him? Too many great catches? Too much Effort? What?
Dave Braveraven, Sarasota, Fla.
A: Dave, there's always the possibility of a switch, especially if Coco stays hot. But I think the Sox think Lugo will prove to be a more productive table-setter than Coco at the top of the order. But certainly Francona has some options: Youkilis can't run like the other two, but his on-base capabilities give the Sox yet another leadoff candidate.
Gordon, you do great work, not just with this blog, but in your many articles. This question is about David Ortiz and Francona. I know David is not the world's greatest first baseman, but I have seen him play the position without looking too bad. So I cannot understand why Terry Francona never, ever has David play first base so that someone else (Manny, for instance) could get a semi-break as DH. Jason Giambi, for example, is also not a great fielding first baseman, but he does sometimes take a turn there so that someone else can DH. I thought one of the reasons (I know, pitching was the big one) why the Yankees beat the snot out of the Red Sox last August at Fenway was that in that marathon five-game series Joe Torre rotated 3 or 4 different guys in as the DH. Not Francona. While everyone else was playing 4 and 5 hour games in the heat, old Big Papi was there just to hit (or not, as it turns out). So my question is, can you defend that policy?
Creighton Abrams, Springfield, Va.
A: Creighton, thanks for the good word. There was a time it frustrated Ortiz that he didn't play more at first base. I remember one day this spring he was complaining, half-seriously, about having to take part in so many first base drills if he was never going to play there (except in interleague games). I think the risk-benefit ratio is so tilted toward using Ortiz exclusively as a DH that Terry figures there are very few instances where his lineup would be stronger just by having Ortiz play first base. Why, so Manny can DH and Wily Mo Pena play left, or vice versa? Hasn't Youks performed at a suitably high level that you don't bounce him just so Manny DHs and Wily Mo plays? If Manny needs a blow, you sit him. If Papi needs a blow, Manny DHs. If Youks needs a blow, you play Eric Hinske. Seems to me that's got it covered.
At this point it's fairly obvious that Daisuke Matsuzaka is having issues with his command with runners on base. In Rob Bradfords blog, he mentioned that a scout told him that Matsuzaka's time to the plate from the stretch has decreased by about a half second since spring training. It's been said that he's trying to find a balance between not rushing but also holding baserunners. At this point wouldn't it make sense for him to just take the Greg Maddux approach and basically ignore the baserunner? He strikes out a ton of guys and doesn't allow a lot of hits . Is it something that John Farrell might consider suggesting?
A: Marcel, I think the Sox have tried to impress upon him not to worry about the runners as much, and that a stolen base won't be the end of the world, but obviously not yet to great effect. Farrell and others have said Daisuke's biggest problem with men on base is he starts to rush. The walks have come in clusters, and they're hurt him. He's got to figure it out, or it's going to be a long frustrating summer for him.
Still have not seen my questions posted and /or answered. Do you selectively publish and answer the questions? Am I wasting my time looking through your column?
Floyd W. Goddard, Titusville, Fla.
A: Floyd, the answer to your question is, yes, there is some selectivity involved. I'm happy to say the 'Bag gets lots of questions, and we're not able to answer them all. Nothing personal, and I try to make sure lots of different people are represented. I hope it's not a waste of time for you to look; you have to also understand that many people ask variations of the same question, too. But thanks for hanging in there.
Is it just me, or do all of the Yankees batters who strike out turn and stare at the opposing pitcher as they walk to the dugout? When I see Papi, Manny or J.D. Drew strike out (like this weekend) they take their lumps and head for the dugout. I'm sure there are times the Sox hitters (and others around the league) may take an occasional glance out to the mound after a strikeout, but it's not the scornful look that most Yankees are very intentional about. The Yankees do it with incredible frequency, to the point that I'm curious if Don Mattingly teaches it. Do you notice that as well or I'm I off-base here? Thanks for your time.
Aaron Bryant, Nashville, Tenn.
A: Aaron, I haven't heard any Sox pitchers complain about it, so it might be just you. And I think we've all seen Papi complain about a call or two when he's been rung up on strike three and had plenty to say to an ump. The staredown of the opposing pitcher? That's not a Sox trait, but I'm not sure it's a Bomber one, either.
Who fills the role of official scorer for major league games? I ask because I saw some odd -- if under-the-radar -- results during this past weekend's (4/27-29) games between the Red Sox and Yankees. On Friday night, Andy Pettitte threw a pitch that hit the dirt or the plate directly in front of Jorge Posada, then squirted between the catcher's legs, allowing a run to score. The ruling on the play seemed much delayed, but was eventually called a wild pitch. The same thing happened Sunday on a Chien-Ming Wang pitch; although a run did not score, the runner advanced. Again, wild pitch. Earlier in the Sunday game, Jason Varitek missed a somewhat tougher pitch from Julian Tavarez and was charged with a passed ball. While I can't forcefully argue against the call on Varitek, I say both Yankee pitches should have been passed balls; Posada should have blocked them. So what gives? Is there a bias among official scorers (and others) in New York in favor of Posada?
Richard Martin, Sharon
A: Richard, the official scorers are hired by the individual club, subject to MLB approval, and often are current or retired sportswriters. In Boston, for example, the primary scorer is Charles Scoggins, a long-time sportswriter for the Lowell Sun, with other games done by Mike Shalin, formerly of the Boston Herald, and Mike Petraglia, a newcomer to the scoring biz who works for MLB.com. In New York, the scoring is frequently done by Bill Shannon, who I consider the best scorer in the business, with an encyclopedic knowledge of the rules and a wealth of experience. I assure you, there's no pro-Posada bias there. Wild pitches/passed balls are a tough judgment call.
Hey ... what happened to the weekly minor league report you guys used to run every Friday? Are you going to be bringing that back? And if not are there any good sites that give regular updates about our prospects (I know BA has a lot of info but often hard to filter out just the Sox stuff).
Chris Marcus, New York, NY A: Chris, I hope you noticed, but the minor league notebook started today (May 4) and will continue every Friday.
Your Q&A session today (May 1) brought up the horrible possibility that Barry Bonds just might equal Aaron's home runs ... note I did NOT say set the record ... when the Giants come to town. That most historic of records in that most historic of parks. Here is what I would do and I hope you think its worthy of throwing out to RSN and indeed all baseball fans everywhere: If I were at Fenway that series I'd carry a felt tipped marker with me. And if I caught THAT BALL, I'd write BALCO on it in big, indelible letters and throw it back. A worthless record is worth a worthless ball. Here's a chance for all real fans of the game to make a statement about what baseball has become -- a game tainted by cheaters. The game I grew up with and love and the players I respect for their accomplishments. Yaz, Mantle, Maris, Jackson, Ortiz and even, yes, E-Rod, have no taint of scandle about them. So why should we let Bonds and some lucky palooka in the stands make mega-bucks off of despoiling our sport? Now, a Big Papi #63 ball is a whole 'nother story.
Brad Glidden, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
A: Brad, I understand your righteous anger, but I gotta think simple economics will trump principles if Barry should hit the record ball here. Somebody's going to want to make a buck off that ball, and I suspect there will be plenty of Sox fans who will decide it might as well be them.