A look back on the Arroyo-Pena swap
Boston Globe baseball writer Gordon Edes checks in every week (usually on Wednesdays) to answer your questions on the Red Sox. Ask yours now, and come back next week to see if it was answered.
Hey, everyone. Thanks for your patience. I took my mom back to her native Germany for her birthday, and while I brought my laptop with me, intending to keep up with the Sox and the 'Bag, I didn't bring an AC converter that could handle the three-pronged plug on my computer. Frustrating, to be sure... if not for an occasional visit to an Internet café, I would have really been completely out of the loop. I can tell you that "Bonds on Bonds" is not must-see TV in Deutschland . Judging by the ratings here, it's not much-see TV here, either. Anyway, on to the 'Bag.
Hope you had a great time in Germany. You were missed. Since you were away, Willy Mo Pena seemed to improve on a daily basis. Even though Bronson is missed, do you think the trade is looking more favorable for the Sox and how will Francona use Pena after Coco comes back?
Why is it that the Red Sox hit so poorly against lefthanders i.e. Lilly, Kazmir et al., when Ortiz, their #1 lefty has a good average against left-handed pitchers? Do they need to take some lesson from the Blue Jays?
Barbara Healey, Fly Creek, NY
A: Barbara, did you catch Bronson doing a standup TV spot for a Cincinnati station last weekend, joking back and forth with the anchors? He's become the Johnny Damon of the Charm City. Soon, Little Leaguers all over Cincinnati will be growing their hair long and dying it blond. It's fun to see, but as with any trade, time is needed before we can offer a fair evaluation. Obviously, Bronson has galvanized the Reds. Going into his start tonight in Pittsburgh, he has been spectacular-in five of his eight starts, he has allowed one or no runs, opponents are batting just .214 against him, and he has a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 43 to 12. For two months, anyway, he has morphed from fifth starter to staff ace, but it's still too early to say he's suddenly transformed into Greg Maddux. And as you noted, Wily Mo has been making a noteworthy contribution in Crisp's absence-he's batting .375 this month, second only to Mark Loretta's .418, and he has 11 RBIs in 11 games this month. He has played well enough that Tito Francona will make an effort to get him in there at least twice or three times a week, platooning him with Trot in right, using him to give Manny and Coco an occasional day off, maybe even using him as DH once in a while.
You're absolutely right about the B-Jays wearing out lefties. They're hitting .354 against lefties, more than 100 percentage points than the Sox (.252). It would help if Manny got hot against lefties, and it's also worth pointing out that Pena hasn't handled lefties (7 for 35, .200); Trot has actually done better (.286, 2 HR, 4 RBIs).
The rain-shortened game against Texas went 5.5 innings. The Rangers scored 2 runs in the top of the sixth to make the final 6-0. I thought that the scoring rules were such that since the sixth inning was not completed the anything that happened in the top of the sixth would not count and the score revert to what it was at the end of 5 innings. Hypothetical; say the game was scoreless at the end of 5, Texas gets 2 in the top of the 6th and then the game is rained out. Would Texas win the game?
Richard Perkins, Yarmouth Port
A: Richard, Major League Baseball Rule 4.11 (d) states, "A called game ends at the moment the umpire terminates play. Thus, everything that has happened to that point goes in the books. There are, however, two notable exceptions when an inning is in progress and has not been completed that turns a game into a "suspended" game: 1) The visiting team has scored one or more runs to tie the score and the home team has not scored; 2) the visiting team has scored one or more runs to take the lead and the home team has not tied the score or retaken the lead.
Thus, using the example you offer, if the game between the Sox and Rangers had been scoreless after five and the Rangers had scored twice in the sixth to take the lead, the umpires would have suspended the game and play would have resumed at that point prior to the next scheduled game between the teams. That only applies, of course, if the game has gone long enough to be considered a regulation game: 4 ½ innings if the home team is ahead, or 5 innings if the visitors led after 4 ½. If it's tied after five, the umps declare it a tie game, the records count, but the game is replayed in its entirety.
This is driving me crazy. Bernie Williams tosses his helmet at an umpire 2 day after the D-Rays minor leaguer gets a 50 game suspension, and I haven't seen one word about the Commissioner's Office getting involved to levy fine or suspension. What gives? Another case of Bob Watson only being Vice Principal for Red Sox discipline?
Dave Pawlak, Coventry, RI
A: C'mon Dave, you don't really think the incidents are comparable, do you? Delmon Young flung his bat directly at the umpire; striking him in the chest. Bernie Williams tossed his helmet backwards as he walking back to the dugout after being called out on strikes, and his helmet hits umpire Charlie Reliford in the league. Bob Watson is investigating the incident, and Williams will be disciplined, but I suspect he may get away with just a fine for two reasons: 1, the contact with Reliford will be determined as unintentional, and 2, Williams has never been tossed from a game-in the majors or minors, and he says, Little League. Now, if the question of intent is murky, Williams may get a game or two (I didn't see replays of the incident), but I do think his track record will come into play. And no, I don't think it's a case of Watson giving the Yanks a pass while coming down hard on the Sox.
With Barry Bonds getting flak daily for his alleged steroid use, why is someone like Jason Giambi seemingly getting a pass? His production has made a remarkable bounce back from last year, and, at least on television, he appears to show some signs, especially in his face (which appears swollen), of steroid use. Is anyone asking, if he or other players are using steroids or some kind of performance enhancing substance again?
Bob Smietana, Chicago, IL
A: Bob, the consequences of the Steroid Era are that no player is completely free of suspicion (well, except for David Eckstein). That said, given the amount of scrutiny Giambi is under, and the fact he is subject to (admittedly imperfect) random drug testing beyond the norm, it would be truly stunning if he is still dirty. I haven't seen the telltale signs that you cite, and I'm not sure what you mean when you ask whether people are asking if these guys are still using steroids. Do you believe reporters should be asking Brian Cashman or Joe Torre or Jason Giambi if he is still using steroids? The drug-testing system is designed to answer those questions, and as Giambi has already experienced the public humiliation of being exposed, presumably that, too, will serve as a deterrent. That said, we all are aware that there are designer drugs and other performance-enhancing substances that are undetectable at this time.
First of all, I love your work. Let's hope Papelbon and the Sox can close this one out. Anyways, I'm wondering if you could write a piece about the pervasiveness of chewing tobacco in MLB. I know it's not the most popular topic, but I think it's a serious problem. For example, during the 8th inning of tonight's game, the NESN cameras zoomed in on Francona for at least 15 or 20 seconds while he pulled some tobacco from a bag and prepared to put it into his mouth. Clearly this sends the wrong message to impressionable young viewers.
A: Dan, the Globe actually ran a front-page story on the day of the home opener on the dangers of smokeless tobacco. Francona has tried to quit what Curt Schilling has described as a "horrible, disgusting dirty habit," but like other addictive behaviors, it's tough to do. I've been present when Joe Garagiola, the former catcher, broadcaster and crusader against the dangers of smokeless tobacco, has made his presentation to big-league clubs. Garagiola used to be accompanied by Bill Tuttle, the former Tiger who had lost a big chunk of his face because of the mouth cancer that had ensued from chewing. What's strange is that Terry has told me he doesn't chew in the off-season, but the stuff is so pervasive in the baseball environment it's a difficult temptation to resist.
Thanks for all your good work-in print and online. Question about Schilling: what's up with him? Physically he seems fine but at the moment he's not the same pitcher he once was. Is it a case of him just getting older and losing something or this just a bad patch? What do you think we can realistically expect from him for the rest of the season?
James Greenberg, Santa Monica, Calif.
A: James, Schill's problems continued last night, as he gave up three more home runs in 5 2/3 innings, making it 8 home runs in his last three starts. He says that right now he doesn't have that extra "oomph" on his fastball to put away hitters with two strikes, and last night he didn't have a feel for the splitter, either, although he was throwing a great one in his bullpen session between starts. I think he'll get past this, but obviously the drop-off in his performance raises questions about the wisdom of leaving him in to throw 133 pitches on a cold night in Cleveland. Both Schilling and manager Terry Francona are adamant that has nothing to do with what has transpired since; Schilling blames it on "horrible pitches" and says he has to rely more on his command than relying on his ability to reach back and put a hitter away.
Hey, I got a question. In my fantasy baseball league, I read that Dontrelle Willis is on the trading block. Now I was wondering what you think the chances are that the Sox will acquire him? I don't know what they would be able to give and I asked around hearing they should trade Lester and Hansen. I don't agree with that. They finally have some top prospects waiting in the wings as you would say, so why would they pull the trigger and move them? If they don't trade them is there any chance of them getting Willis? He would provide a young arm to an old staff, but his contract, as is Beckett's is up at the end of the year. What are your thoughts on the D-Train coming to Boston and for what?
Tyler Manoukian, Carlisle, Mass.
A: Tyler, Willis made a good start last night, though he gave up a game-tying home run in the ninth, but he'd been lit up big-time in his four previous starts, which did nothing to enhance his trade value. I'm not sure what you mean about his contract being up at the end of the year. He's working on a one-year deal, but he only has two years and 143 days of service time entering this season, meaning he's still two years away from free agency. Beckett, too, is on a one-year deal but will remain under Sox control through the 2007 season, longer if they sign him to a long-term deal. I can't see the Sox trading either Lester or Hansen, for Willis, or anyone else.
Hey Gordo, so far so good with one fifth of the season in the book. With some fixable problems of note, I think we are a good enough team to be on top in October. My question is, do you think we will go hard after another starter (Clemens, Willis) or are Theo and company satisfied with the horses we have at present. I love Wily Mo and his power, but I'd sure like to have Bronson right now pitching every fifth day.
Larry D, Allentown, Pa.
A: Larry D, I don't doubt that the Sox would explore what it might take to get a Willis, but I think we are presuming too much to think the Marlins will definitely deal him, and as I wrote in response to the previous letter, I don't see the Sox giving up either Lester or Hansen to make that trade. Clemens is another story. I still believe the Sox are making a full-court press in an effort to land Roger.
Hi Gordon, despite early returns of an improved Wakefield with Mirabelli behind the plate, the club did give up a much younger catcher and a potentially unique bullpen arm. If catching a knuckleball is indeed a learned skill, do you think the Sox may have acted prematurely in making the deal with San Diego?
Matt Scully, San Diego, CA
A: Matt, that Josh Bard-Mirabelli trade turned around the Padres' season, didn't it? The Pads are 13-3 since the deal, and Bard, who has been assigned to catch Padres ace Jake Peavy, just made back-to-back starts for the first time since the deal, and hit a home run Monday night. Good for him. But seriously, the move was one Theo had to make. The Sox didn't have the luxury of Bard learning on the job, he's likely never going to be more than a backup, and Mirabelli's value working with Wakefield is unquestioned.
Love your work! I was reading about Hansen's recent start and how the Red Sox are taking meticulous in developing all his pitches. Then I wondered, does every prospect get this much attention. I find this unfair to the lesser-known prospects. Though Hansen may have a higher ceiling than others, aren't the Sox destroying the potential of other prospects. Your thoughts?
Vinny, New Jersey
A: Vinny, teams are always going to invest more resources in their top prospects, because they literally have invested more money in the guys they've taken at the top of the draft.
In the Sox case, however, I'm impressed by the attention they devote to many of their minor leaguers, sitting down with each one and developing individualized plans. Look, it's unrealistic to believe that every minor leaguer would get the same amount of attention. What you hope for is that talent, and not simply draft position, determines how much attention a player gets, but sometimes talent takes time to recognize. Sure, other minor leaguers sometimes resent the attention the bonus babies get, but the flip side, of course, is that the top prospects are often under more pressure to produce, too.