Boston Globe baseball writer Gordon Edes check in every Thursday with his take on the Red Sox. Ask your question now, and come back next week to see if it was answered.
Holy cow! Did you think Wade Miller was as good as he looked in his Sox debut? His curveball was amazing, and he struck out Ichiro twice! Can we expect more of the same from Miller, or do you think he was just really pumped for his Red Sox debut?
A: Larry, The only folks who weren't enthused about Miller's Sox debut last Sunday were the Mariners. He hit 95 m.p.h. and painted black when he punched out Adrian Beltre in the first; and as you noted, the 12-to-6 curveball was very impressive. As his arm strength increases, it will be interesting to see if his velocity (he was around 91 for most of the game) will improve; when he was with the Astros and healthy, he threw 95-96 consistently. He faces the Mariners again tomorrow (Saturday), so we'll see how well his shoulder bounced back from its first major test in almost 11 months. But there are definite grounds to be optimistic.
We know that Wade Miller had a "frayed rotator cuff", and much has been written about his rehab this year. What IS the status of his shoulder? Is he healed, healing, or one pitch away from being on the DL and facing surgery? Thanks.
Bruce, Chapel Hill, NC
A: Bruce, the approach the club took with Miller is much like the one they took with Pedro Martinez's shoulder; hold off on surgery, build up the muscles around the labrum, and see how the shoulder responds. The early returns have been very encouraging, but no one in the Sox organization is claiming that Miller doesn't have to worry about breaking down again and ultimately needing surgery. It truly is a wait-and-see proposition, but right now all signs are pointing in the right direction.
What's up with Curt Schilling? Why is he only talking during his weekly radio appearance? And how is his ankle coming? Who will be back sooner, Schilling or David Wells?
A: I can't say I know the answer for certain, Shawn, since Curt isn't talking, unless he's getting paid to do so. I suspect it's because he felt the mainstream media were unfair to him in the aftermath of his 'EEI interview a couple of weeks ago, a controversy he provoked by using the word "idiot'' in connection with D-Rays manager Lou Piniella. He evidently felt that people didn't make the distinction between him calling Piniella an idiot -- which he didn't -- and claiming that certain unnamed D-Rays players referred to Piniella as an "idiot" during their on-field scrum. There were a couple of columns, especially in the national media, that poked fun at Schilling's willingness to weigh in on most subjects, so Schilling's response may have been to shut it down except on his weekly radio show. That's his right, to be sure, but it certainly isn't doing any favors to those Sox fans who would like to hear what the man says. As for the ankle, Schilling indicated via Radio Curt that he believes Wells is ahead of him, and he has a ways to go before he comes back. A lot of uncertainty there. Wells, meanwhile, may return to the rotation as soon as next week.
Mark Belhorn: At bats 90 Strike outs 35. Can you even begin to explain this?
A: Leonard, to update the numbers: Bellhorn enters the weekend in Seattle with 38 K's in 97 at-bats. Only Brad Wilkerson of the Nats, with 40, has more whiffs. The difference between the two is that Wilkerson remains productive, batting .296 with a .366 OBP, while Bellhorn is batting .216 with a .321 OBP, well below the .264/.373 numbers he posted last season. At his current pace, Bellhorn will strike out 205 times, which would a) break his club-record 177 whiffs of last season; b) break the big-league record of 195 set by Adam Dunn last season; and c) make him the first player with 200 K's in a season.
None of us can express surprise that Bellhorn strikes out a lot. He did so last season, but still managed to be a contributor to the offense, by drawing walks and getting on base. He K's a lot in part because of his willingness to go so deep into counts, but this season the walks aren't coming.
He's an equal-opportunity whiffer: lefties (17 K's in 35 ABs, or almost one every two at-bats), righties (21 K's in 62 at-bats, or about once every 3 at-bats); at home (20 K's in 52 at-bats), and on the road (18 in 45 at-bats).
One number that should concern the Sox: Bellhorn is batting just .173 at Fenway, which makes you wonder if he's putting too much pressure on himself in front of the home folks.
Mr. Edes, seeing how Kevin Millar is providing absolutely no protection for David Ortiz, wouldn't it be a wise move to have Varitek in the fifth spot? Also, why not give Millar some days off here and there and give Youkilis some time at 1st base? Millar's hitting .250 with no home runs and for some reason is the only player on the team that has started every game.
A: Joe, the timing of this letter is kind of like walking in to the boss' office to tell him off, then finding out an hour later that he'd put you in for a big raise. Mr. Millar is off the hook this week with his two home runs, including a walkoff that was followed a day later by Jason Varitek's walkoff. He had joked that he was going to be the only guy in the league with one home run and 90 RBIs, but he took care of that against the A's.
We should all know by now that Millar is a streaky hitter, and while he takes a .250 average into this weekend's series against the Mariners, and only 7 of his 30 hits have been for extra bases, he does have 20 RBIs, which is one fewer than the 21 he had on July 1 last season. He's just one of those guys who when you look up at the end of the season puts up pretty much the same type of numbers year in and year out.
Why did Terry bring Cla Meredith to pitch against the Mariners in a tied ball game? And why did he leave him in even after serving up the grand slam to Richie Sexson? Whatever happened to breaking kids in easy w/ mop up duty? Do we have another Bobby Sprowl on our hands?
Mike, Madison, Ala.
A: Mike, I really don't understand all the consternation about bringing in Cla Meredith last Sunday in a 2-2 game. It was the second game of the double-header, it was still just the sixth inning, the kid had been riding a great wave in pro ball (he hadn't given up a home run in 42 pro appearances dating back to last season), why not see what he could do? It's May, see how the kid handles pressure, then see how the kid responds when things don't go well. He may not be ready yet, but I liked the way he handled himself.
Dear Mr. Edes, It is now obvious that Youkilis is a big league caliber player. It seems a waste to have his talent sit on the bench. When everyone is healthy again, why not have a platoon at third. Bill Mueller's knees could use some rest and Youkilis could gain great experience with a day on day off type schedule until he assumes his role as regular third baseman next year.
Christopher, Soyapango, El Salvador
A: Christopher, it's gratifying to discover there's a Bagger in El Salvador. I think Youkilis is a valuable asset to this team, but I for one want to be able to write Bill Mueller's name on my lineup card until he shows me his knees can't stand up to the pounding, which is not yet the case. The man just does so many things that go into winning baseball games, which is why he is universally respected in the Sox clubhouse. I also don't think it's obvious yet to anybody what Youkilis could do if he became an everyday player; he could blossom, yes, or he could have his limitations exposed.
Hey Gordon, After reading last week's "Ask Edes" I've grown increasing excited at the idea that Boston is retooling its farm system. Dustin Pedroia seems to be a David Eckstein with incredible fielding prowess and Hanley Ramirez also looks good. I know people are high on Jon Papelbon, but I've also heard Jon Lester's name being bounced about. Do you feel the Sox could eventually have both Jon's in their rotation and Cle Meredith as their closer?
Andrew, Reston, Va.
A: Andrew, it is encouraging to see kids in the pipeline. Meredith is here, Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez are both on the fast track to get here, and the Sox master plan has guys like Papelbon and Lester, a former No. 1 pick, Juan Cedeno and Manny Delcarmen arriving at Yawkey Way in the next couple of years. It's been a long-time between successful homegrown pitchers -- Aaron Sele is the last guy that comes to my mind who stuck around for a while.
Mr. Edes, I am completely dismayed at the way Theo Epstein put together the Red Sox pitching staff this season -- not re-signing either Pedro or Derek Lowe looked like an obvious mistake before the season even began -- now it looks like a complete disaster. Pedro is still Pedro -- a proven, big game winner. Lowe is proven too, especially in last year's great postseason -- and he's NEVER hurt. They are both ACES for their respective teams now. What was Theo thinking signing Wells? And knowing Schilling was coming off surgery, don't you want to resign a guy like Lowe? Or Pedro? Clement has been OK, but very inconsistent (which he's always been) and not as good as Lowe. What was the thought process (or lack of thought) in putting together this pitching staff? The way Lowe was ushered out the door -- to say nothing of Pedro -- was heartbreaking and ridiculous given what these guys accomplished here -- a World Title. A very poor job by Theo on many counts.
Matthew, Wilton, Conn.
A: Matt, again I suspect your letter is more evidence that timing is everything. The pitching has been anything but a disaster, even with the injuries to Schilling and Wells. As my new colleague (and strong rookie of the year candidate) Chris Snow points out in Friday's Globe, since Wells and Schilling were fitted with plastic boots on April 27, the Sox have gone 10-3 with a 3.38 ERA, and have held opposing hitters to a .228 average.
The starters have stepped up, going 8-1 with a 3.07 ERA, and all six guys that have taken the hill -- Bronson Arroyo, Tim Wakefield, Matt Clement, Wade Miller, Jeremi Gonzalez and John Halama -- have averaged 6 1/3 innings per start. That's good work, by any standard. Theo should be commended for crafting a staff that has some depth, while finding alternatives to two guys (Martinez and Lowe) who commanded a total of $89 million on the open market.
I have been a Red Sox fan since birth in Lynn, Mass. I have lived in Wilmington, NC (Trot Nixon's hometown) for over 20 years. We played against each other as kids, and I hope he stays in Boston for his career.
My question has two parts...
1) Do you see any threat of Nixon being traded in the near future for a stronger No. 2 pitcher, with Schilling & Wells in trouble?
2) Do you think we would trade Youkilis before Millar? I think Youk could develop into a good 1st baseman with some punch in his bat over the next 5-10 years.... Wouldn't you agree?
Jeff, Wilmington, NC
A: Jeff, that's quite a parlay, being born in Johnny Pesky country (Swampscott) and living in Trot's hometown. I don't think Trot is too vulnerable to a deal. He's making more money than the small-market clubs can afford (he's in the second year of a three-year deal that pays him $6.5m per) while coming at a reasonable cost for the Sox. I think the Sox see Nixon as one of the core players they wouldn't want to give up. It will take top prospects to get a starting pitcher in return.
I believe April was Jackie Robinson month. It was BB's time to honor the memory of a true professional. I am wondering why Mariano Rivera is allowed to wear the number 42 which has been retired by every club except the Yankees. Isn't it time that someone took hold of this issue and let Steinbrenner, Rivera, The Times, or whoever is responsible for this lack of respect know we are upset over it? Ray Bourque went from 7 to 77. Can't Mariano go from 42 to 24 or 84 or something?
Dave, Bonita Springs, Fla.
A: Dave, at the time (1997) when Jackie Robinson's number was retired, MLB added a provision that permitted players already wearing No. 42 to continue to do so. Mo Vaughn, for example, continued to wear No. 42 with the Red Sox, even though No. 42 was added to the row of numbers on the grandstand façade. When the Yankees retire No. 42, they will probably do so to honor both Rivera and Robinson. No disrespect there, in my view.
Why did Dave McCarty get dropped? He can out-field, out-run and out-throw Millar, and (my belief) can out hit him too (Pete Runnels could outslug Millar the way he's hitting now). What does Millar have besides a big mouth that keeps him in the lineup? And why would anyone think John Olerud (once repaired, if that happens) has anything more to offer than McCarty ? Think of what Francona said last year about fixing the Sox defense -- the dope has dismantled it all now!
Al, Venice, Fla.
A: Al, I'm not sure what McCarty, who by all accounts is a great guy, has done to win your admiration. The Sox were his seventh team -- Twins, Giants, Mariners, Royals, D-Rays and A's before them -- and he hasn't convinced any of them he could be an everyday player. He is a plus-fielder and has power, but he has too many holes in his swing to be a productive player on an everyday basis. His biggest contribution to the game will come down the road, as a coach or front-office man (he has a degree in economics from Stanford).
To appropriately recognize Johnny Pesky at Fenway, would it be within the MLB rules to allow the Red Sox to put some sort of marker on the right field foul pole? Maybe put a "6" on it or spell out Pesky? After all, it is known as Pesky's Pole.
Jon, Arlington, Va.
A: Jon, I would think that is a viable option the Sox could explore. The Marlins once tried to turn their foul pole into a giant pencil, an ad for one of their office-supply sponsors, but that didn't fly.