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.
Gordon, Many thanks for the superbly incisive Sox coverage you deliver on a daily basis. My question on the Roger Clemens issue is this: Why were the Sox so aggressive in their pursuit of Clemens, when they have taken such a conservative stance on Schilling? After declining the 2008 extension for Schilling, Theo said, "It doesn't make sense from a business standpoint right now to guarantee that kind of money a year in advance for 41-year-old." Schilling's DOB is listed as Nov. 14, 1966, Clemens's is Aug. 4, 1962. So it can't just be age, it must be performance that makes Clemens relatively more valuable, right? OK, Roger has put together 2.5 exceptional regular seasons in Houston, with a cumulative ERA of 2.40. But that was in the hitting-challenged National League. In his five years with the Yankees, in the war zone of the AL East, Roger's cumulative ERA was 3.99. His average numbers for those years are virtually identical to Schilling's 2006 record of 15-7, 3.97 ERA. So is it postseason numbers that give Clemens the edge over Schilling? Hardly. Schilling has a magnificent postseason record, 8-2, 2.06 ERA, 0.93 WHIP. Clemens' career postseason numbers are good but clearly inferior -- 12-8, 3.66 ERA, 1.21 WHIP. Of more concern with Roger's postseason numbers are the recent ones. In 2005 for Houston he had 4 starts, and the totals were awful -- he lasted only 16 innings total with a 5.63 ERA. And in his last 2 truly critical games, 2004 NLCS game 7 and 2003 ALCS game 7, he was outpitched decisively and left the game trailing. In a big game in the 2007 postseason, who would we rather have on the mound, Roger or Curt? In my opinion, the only reason it makes sense for the Sox to spend $16 million or more for half of 2007 of Roger, as opposed to $13 million for 2008 of Curt, is the PR value and the blow it would strike to the Yankees. If you look at numbers alone, and Theo's stated position on 40-year-old plus pitchers, does it make any sense at all?
Bob McNeil, Halifax, Nova Scotia
A: Bob, I owed you to run your letter, for no other reason than all the research you did to support your position. I can also say that Schill thanks you for your well-reasoned argument on his behalf. I'd say if Curt continues to pitch as well as he has, he'll be in a sweet negotiating position come this winter.
How is it that Roger Clemens gets to play only half a professional season? I can't think of another athlete in any other professional sport that has had the opportunity to finish their career in the style that he has. The only example that comes to mind is some older golfers that seem to only play the majors. I can, however, think of some great athletes, that had they only played half seasons as they aged, would most likely been able to extend their careers by several years. We can probably all think of a few that we wish had done that. I'm not saying this to pass judgment on Clemens - that's a different subject - it's just that to me, part of the challenge of MLB is the long, very full season. And last but not least, my thanks to you and all the sports staff at the Globe for the great coverage of my favorite teams. I havn't lived in MA since 1990, you folks are my life line.
Harry Millman, Orangeville, Ontario, Canada
A: Harry, thanks for the good word, and I trust you got to watch your favorite team while the Sox were up in your province, doing a number on the Blue Jays. There is no question that Clemens has taken advantage of the demand for his services to create a unique set of circumstances for himself. And if I'm Drayton McLane, who paid him a pro-rated $22m to pitch for the Astros last year, I'd be wondering if my team might have made the playoffs if Roger had pitched a full season, instead of missing out by a game. I suspect Roger and his agents, on the other hand, would remind McLane how many extra fannies Roger put in the seats by signing with the Astros, and how their World Series run of the year before would not have been possible without him. It is true, what separates baseball from the other sports is the long grind that separates the best teams from the rest of the pack. I don't know -- can you imagine Michael Jordan showing up on a team, just for the playoffs, or Wayne Gretzky showing up after Valentine's Day to lead a team into the Cup playoffs? There's something not right about that picture, I agree.
OK, the Rocket's with the Yanks, but instead of us booing him, like he expects us to do, let's mess with him and cheer the lights out. Let's acknowledge him positively. Let's not give him an edge. He won't know how to handle the kindness. Reverse psychology just might work!! What do you think?
Peter Sakes, Spring Hill, Fla.
A: Peter, There's about as much chance of Roger's return to Fenway becoming a lovefest as there is a fight during a Pops concert at Symphony Hall (Sorry, got to lose that analogy from my list). I think in this case, Sox fans are entitled to letting Roger know that they don't appreciate his reappearance in pinstripes...and that everyone in the world is wise to the fact that he follows the money...no nostalgia, no winning one for the Yanks who don't have rings (yeah, I'm sure he feels he owes it to A-Rod and Colter Bean). Friendship with Andy? I don't know, do you know many people who decide where they're going to work on the basis of who their buddies are? I don't think anyone has to be too subtle when he comes back.
Hi Gordon..love the "bag" and I read boston.com daily. I am the same age as Clemens. I spent half my life in NH and half in FL. On to the point: As a life long Sox fan, I remember all the soap opera/late to camp superstar/ Duquette with his crystal ball stuff. Here is my take: I didn't want Clemens back. Why? Based on the numbers, he is using performance enhancers. I may be naive, perhaps one or more members of the Sox are or has been over the last few years, but the numbers with Clemens are startling. With the Yankees, he was just a bit better than mediocre, with an ERA averaging 4.01 over 5 seasons ( I simply added his 5 seasons ERA and divided by 5, close enough for the sake of argument.) He heads to Houston and averages a 2.35 ERA from ages 41-44? HUH? He is named in the Grimsley probe on HGH? Is he above being questioned in this area? Big Mac, Sammy, Bonds, Palmiero get grilled about larger size and performing after the typical prime age of an athlete, yet Roger has somehow found the fountain of youth in his 40s? HUH? Your thoughts?
David Hartman, Casselberry, Fla.
A: Dave, I'd be a little careful in pointing fingers. There has been speculation about Roger...as I like to say, the only player in the big leagues totally free of suspicion is David Eckstein. There are plenty of reasons why his ERA went down with the Astros, most of them having to do with the relative strength of the lineups in the two leagues, and the absence of the DH in the NL. Much of Roger's success in the last 10 years also has to do with his development of the splitter into an effective weapon. We may never be able to identify those who cheated and those who didn't, and while Barry might also be inclined to say, 'Why me and not him?' but it's not as simple as looking at the numbers and drawing conclusions.
What is your take on your colleague Dan Shaughnessy's column about Roger Clemens and him (Dan) calling Schilling's comments "stupefying"? I have to say that Schill is 100% correct. His statement is his assessment. It does not mean he would not like to have him. All Dan did was take one stand-alone sentence, and turn it into another arrow in his personal quest to chastise Schilling. I'd like to know your thoughts, as you put a lot more thought into your words. Personally, Schilling is correct, and his blog lays it out. The team, as it is constructed, is a really solid squad and I feel they will go far this season. And is Okajima doing a great job or what?
Vinnie Y., Okinawa, Japan
A: Vinnie, thanks for weighing into the 'Bag from so far afield, and I'll answer the easy part first, Okajima has been a HUGE part of the Sox's early success, especially with Timlin hurt. As for what Dan said about Schill, we all recognize there's a mutual antagonism there that colors each guy's perception of the other. I was there when Schilling made his remarks, and my takeaway was that while Schilling would have liked to have had Clemens, he was echoing a sentiment expressed elsewhere in the Sox clubhouse: This team has a good pitching staff, one built to win without Rocket. It is tempting fate to say "We don't need him." You certainly could make that case, especially if Clemens beats the Sox in critical late-season games. I haven't asked Dan directly, but I believe that's what he was suggesting. I did not walk away from my conversation with Curt, thinking, how arrogant can he be, saying the Sox "don't need" Clemens. I thought Curt was expressing confidence in what he and the other members of the Sox rotation can do, and what Jon Lester will hopefully bring to the table as well.
I love your column and mailbag. My question is about Roger. I am stunned by all the coverage on ESPN and elsewhere, suggesting that personal relationships and the chance to win were most important to him. His chance to win was clearly greatest with the Sox. He simply went with the team that offered him by far the most money. That's fine with me; I just wish that he'd be man enough to admit it.
A: JW, it's a rare thing to hear any athlete say he made a decision based on the bucks. Mike Hampton said he signed for megamillions with the Rockies because of the school system. Most guys talk about "respect" or how much another team made them feel wanted., rather than just come out and say, "What do you take me for, a moron? These guys offered me X million more than anyone else, and as long as that's the way we keep score in this world, that's where I'm going." It's not just Roger. Or have you forgotten that after he said he wanted to pitch closer to home, he signed with Toronto?
Hey Gordon ... I've seen a lot of Red Sox teams in my day, and I think this one takes the cake. Do you agree? At this point in the season, do you remember any other Red Sox team being as good and complete as this one?
A: Chris, the 2004 team was more loaded offensively, and having Pedro, Schill, Lowe and Wake in the rotation wasn't too shabby either, especially with a top-of-his-game Keith Foulke in the pen. That said, this team is playing great ball, it so far has dodged injuries (with the exception of Mike Timlin and now perhaps Josh Beckett) and appears to have pitching depth into the minors. One cautionary note: Don't forget the '02 team got off to a fabulous start -- I believe they were 40-17 at one point -- then limped home and missed the playoffs by playing just over .500 ball (53-52) the last 105 games of the season.
No one seems to be able to answer this question. I've noticed in watching the Red Sox games that for at least 3 years, there is a gentleman sitting in the front row, behind home plate, to the right of the catcher as the camera is looking from the pitcher's perspective. When I've been at the games, I have seen him on the field before the game, so he must be a member of the Sox organization. He often has a briefcase. He was sitting next to Meterparel on opening day (to John's left). He's in his late 50s or early 60s. He's not an owner. Do you know who he is? He never misses a game! Thanks.
Chuck Humphrey, Auburn, Maine
A: Chuck, the gentleman you're referring to is Jeremy Kapstein, who other than sitting behind the plate keeps a low profile in terms of what he does for the Sox. He acts as a consultant to Sox CEO Larry Lucchino, having spent years in baseball as one of baseball's most powerful agents (he represented Fred Lynn and Carlton Fisk and Steve Garvey, among others), and a short time as president of the San Diego Padres. Jeremy's work goes on behind the scenes, but there can hardly be a person who works at Fenway Park who hasn't received a hello from Jeremy, who never forgets a name and has a genuine care and affection for people, the bigshots and the little guys. For years, Jeremy worked anonymously with the homeless in San Diego and is known for his charitable work in his native Rhode Island as well. I have great respect for Jeremy as a human being, and I hope one day he sits down and tells his life story...he walks the talk.
What is the story on Matt Clement?
Bruce Dubuque, Grand Isle, Vt.
A: Bruce, he's down in Fort Myers, on the long, lonely and laborious path to rehabilitating his shoulder. He has talked about possibly pitching again by July, but that may be optimistic.
Seems that this Barry Bonds issue has become a lightning rod of sorts. With Curt Schilling weighing in on one side and David Ortiz and Jonathan Papelbon weighing in on the other, as well as Pap's comments about Schilling being unprofessional, what do you see in the clubhouse and will this division spill out onto the field? The last thing this team needs is dissension. Your thoughts are welcomed and appreciated.
Rob Kayaian, Scarsdale, N.Y.
A: Well, Rob, in the midst of all this Barry hoohah, the Sox croaked the Jays three straight games by a combined score of 26-5, so I can't say I believe the Sox clubhouse was torn asunder by the off-field chatter. I was a bit surprised that Papelbon called out Schill a bit when he said Curt's comments weren't very professional, but I think it was just a public reminder that this team has a great thing going right now and the tolerance level for anything that might detract from that is low in the clubhouse. Hey, I think it's pretty obvious Curt realizes he crossed the line with what he said. Frankly, I'm startled by the level of vitriol that he's getting on his own website from folks, though I guess I shouldn't be surprised. In cyberspace, traditional norms of civility are cast aside pretty easily.
Last night Remdog was giving advice on dating. The question is should I take his advice or my therapist's?
John Grenier, Meriden Conn.
A: John, this is even a question? Look at Rem. Does he seem happy? Well-adjusted? Loves his work? Is beloved by many? Plays with little green dolls? And you want to know if you can trust his dating advice? Now, if you'd ask whether you should listen to Julian or Manny after their dugout display of affection the other day, I might have a different answer, but I'm surprised we haven't seen a "Rem-on-Romance" feature regularly on NESN. Maybe he's saving it all for a starring role on Sox Appeal. Stay tuned.
Gordon, one of my concerns entering the season was the catching position. Considering Jason Varitek's age and the wear and tear on the body of a catcher, I think they need to rest him more often than the one in every 5 days they do. But I was concerned that they couldn't, based on how poorly Doug Mirabelli played last year. This year however, Mirabelli is having a respectable season both defensively and offensively. Is there any indication that Mirabelli will be given more starts to keep Varitek fresh for the whole season?
Mark S., Bridgewater
A: Mark, there have been no such indications. I think the Sox feeling is that with Mirabelli catching Tim Wakefield every fifth day, that's 30-32 starts, which means Jason will catch around 130 games. I think you can figure there will be an additional odd day off, which makes it closer to 125, which I think the Sox feel he's capable of handling. I'll tell you, though, if you saw Jason walking around after a game, with ice packs on both knees, sometimes another strapped to his shoulder and one on his back, you'd understand the physical effort he makes to catch, night in and night out.
Hello, Gordon. Thanks for consistently informative commentary. Permit me to add a few points regarding Richard Martin's recent query about official scoring. Full disclosure: I'm a reporter for Sports Press Service, which provides Mets and Yanks coverage for the wire services--Bill Shannon is my boss--and an official scorer/statistician in soccer and other sports.
Shannon confirmed today that baseball rules often take decisions away from scorers. To Richard's point, the book says if the pitch bounces, it must be a wild pitch. Ditto Major League Soccer: if a shot is blocked in the six-yard box, it's a block and a shot on goal; outside the six, it's a deflection and not on goal, no matter where the ball was headed. There are numerous examples throughout sports.
The New York scorers are Shannon, Howie Karpin, Jordan Sprechman and occasionally Billy Altman and Dave Freeman, and I can personally attest to their integrity. There are occasional homers elsewhere, and external pressures to be homers. The proof is that reporters in New York pressboxes challenge scorers equally over pro and con calls, and as many home p.r. directors ask for reviews of decisions as visitors.
If I might: Shannon published a booklet last year titled "Official Scoring in the Big Leagues: A Primer for Baseball Fans." It's available from Sports Museum Press, Inc., suite 221, 1133 Broadway, New York, N. Y. 10010 for $7.45, including shipping. I can say this because I won't get a penny from any sales.
Gerry Beatty, Maplewood, N.J.
A: Gerry, I think I've already mentioned it before in the 'Bag, but I'm happy to repeat myself. I've been covering ball for over 20 years, and Bill Shannon is the best scorer in the game, a guy who knows all the nuances of scoring, probably has a rulebook tucked under his pillow, and believes in the integrity of the game above all else. And besides that, when he's not scoring -- don't ever bother him during a game-he's happy to share his expertise on his craft.
Gordo, are any of the Sox players single other than Youks and Tavarez? And is it just me, or does it seem like the Sox have more married players than most teams in the big leagues? Obviously, management is not picking players based on their marital staus, but do you think that they do have some awareness or appreciation for the "family man" status of most of their players?
Emily Dunes, Ashburnham
A: Emily, your list is a bit incomplete. Josh Beckett may be the team's most prominent bachelor, and there's also Wily Mo Pena. There may be guys who are not married but in committed relationships. But no, I don't think the Sox pay any attention to what a player's marital status is.
I was wondering if I am the only one rooting for Barry Bonds to break the home run record. I understand the arguments against him, but he has been a great player for a very long time now, and if Barry Bonds was the only one using performance enhancers then I would be against him as well, but it is such a big problem, and considered common practice in today's sports. The pitchers he is hitting home runs off are probably using the same drugs Barry is using, The focus is just on Barry Bonds for being great. Am I way off on this, or could I be on to something?
Darren Chenette, Fulton, N.Y.
A: Well, Darren, your argument is the one put forth by the folks who are Barry backers. To me, the sad part is, Barry was such a great player even before he became freakishly huge. He was Hall of Fame caliber long before 1998. There is also no disputing the fact that Barry is hardly alone among those who used performance enhancing substances, but I still find there is little joy in watching him break this record, especially when the anecdotal evidence supplied in "Game of Shadows" is so damning.
I just wanted to check and make sure the members of Red Sox Nation appreciate watching a consummate professional at work. As a lifelong baseball fan, I too like seeing the the guys who can hit tape-measure shots (chicks did the longball), but as a purist, I take greater satisfaction in watching a player like Alex Cora show how the game should be played. Always hustling; always thinking; NEVER giving away an at bat. Thank goodness the Rem Dog noted the fabulous (and probably overlooked) play that Cora made with 1 out in the 9th of a 4-3 win over the Twins on Sunday. Cora charged a chopper by Luis Castillo, left his feet, readied himself for the throw in midair, and instantly made the transfer from glove to ball to first to keep the tying run off base. An amazing play that went virtually unnoticed (Thanks again, Jerry). Thank you Alex. A pleasure to watch you play.
Doug Berlin, Jamestown, N.Y.
A: Doug, I like to think Boston is the kind of environment that appreciates a player like Alex Cora, who these days can do no wrong-although in the same game to which you allude, he did cost the Sox a run by getting thrown out at second on a tagup play before the run had crossed the plate. There's a reason the Sox re-signed Cora so quickly after the season; he makes winning plays, and he's all about team. Those are great qualities for any team to have.