Boston Globe baseball writer Gordon Edes checks in every week (usually on Fridays) to answer your questions on the Red Sox. Ask yours now, and come back next week to see if it was answered.
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, I would agree this is an extremely balanced team, but in 2002, when the Sox got off to a 40-17 start, that team looked great, too .Manny Ramirez and Nomar Garciaparra were having big years, Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe were both on their way to 20-win seasons, Ugie Urbina would save 40 games, and yet that club missed the playoffs. I think this team has more depth, both in the rotation and in the pen, but let's see how they weather injury issues as they arise.
Hey Gordon, I just had a quick question on your thoughts about Wakefield's ERA combined with his sub-par record. Do you think that the rest of the team is finally recognizing Wake's value to this rotation, and perhaps will step up the lack of run support that he has been getting over the past few seasons? Look forward to seeing you at homecoming.
Chris Dijak, Lunenburg
A: Chris, nice to hear from a guy who played as hard as you did while at Lunenburg. I lament I didn't get to see many of your football games, but loved your intensity on the basketball court. I think in the Sox clubhouse, there's always been an awareness of Wake's value, especially in terms of his ability to give the team innings. When he went down last season, I thought it had a huge effect both on the rotation and the bullpen, which suddenly had to pick up a lot more innings. It's a funny thing about run support ask the pitchers, and they'll tell you it always seems to be one guy who just doesn't get the runs scored behind him. Josh Beckett and Daisuke, for example, rank first and fourth in the AL in run support, with Josh getting 9.06 runs per nine innings (51/50 2/3) while Daisuke is at 7.69 (53/62). Wake, meanwhile, is at 3.6, one of the lowest figures in the league. But I think you certainly understand that the Sox hitters don't turn it off and on depending who's on the hill.
I've been reading you for years, Gordon, and you never disappoint! It's great to see Tim Wakefield off to such a strong start. For all that is rightfully made of how difficult it is to throw, catch, and hit the knuckleball, I got to wondering how challenging it is for the home plate umpire to call balls and strikes on the knuckler?
Joy Odango, Worcester
A: Joy, thanks for the good word. Must be my north Worcester County upbringing! You know, you've given me a great idea for a future feature story. I've never really talked at any length to the umps about it, but it's gotta be torture! They're just as helpless as the batter and catcher in tracking the flight of the ball. It must be mentally exhausting on every pitch.
It seems to my husband and me that letting Cla Meredith, Hanley Ramirez, and Anabel Sanchez go prematurely with all three blossoming with other big league teams made Theo reluctant about dealing Craig Hansen and Manny Delcarmen last summer. Now the two are having less than stellar seasons in Pawtucket. Do you think Theo rues his decision not to include them in a trade and get value for them when he had the chance?
Toni Kemmerle, Brunswick, Maine
A: Toni, I think Theo is on record for saying he'd like the Meredith trade back, but I think independent of that deal he was determined to keep Hansen/Delcarmen unless he was blown away by an offer. It's fiction, for example, that the Sox were unable to get Roy Oswalt or Andruw Jones because they wouldn't include Hansen in the deal. The Sox would have traded Hansen in a package for Oswalt -- the Astros backed away from a deal -- and talks with Atlanta never got that far. The Sox just called up Delcarmen, who has suddenly found himself after that horrendous meltdown in Buffalo (he and Hansen blew an eight-run lead in the bottom of the ninth), for the Yankees' series. With Mike Timlin on the shelf, I think Hansen and Delcarmen become even more important for the Sox because of the potential depth they offer the pen. Hideki Okajima has been phenomenal, but if he falters, the Sox are going to need help.
Hey Gordo! Great work day in and day out. The Sox are obviously doing great right now and are scoring a lot of runs, but am I the only one concerned with the team's batting average? Kevin Youkilis, Mike Lowell, and now Jason Varitek are doing well, but there are a lot of guys hitting between .230 and .260 right now. I guess the only thing that matters is that the sox are winning, but at what point should people get worried about Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew, Coco Crisp, and Julio Lugo?
Patrick Morris, Brooklyn, NY
A: Patrick, history has proven time and again that we needlessly worry about established players when they're in an early-season slump. By the end of the year, the numbers are inevitably there. I suppose you might have reason to fret about Coco because he's more than a year removed from putting up numbers with Cleveland, but unless you think Manny's gotten old overnight, I don't think there are grounds for concern there -- slow starts have become a staple -- and J.D. has hit for the better part of a decade, so I don't think there's much to worry about there, either.
Why is Matt Clement on the 15-day disabled list instead of the 60-day DL? When can a team terminate a player's contract for being too injured?
Dylan Buffum, Wallingford, Vt.
A: Dylan, the Sox have the option of sliding him over to the 60-man any time they need a player to add to the 40-man roster. Players on the 60-man DL are not counted against a team's 40-man roster. But so far that need has not presented itself.
How do our top two pitching prospects, Buchholz and Bowden, compare to Papelbon and Lester of a couple years ago when they were "can't miss" prospects in Portland. Obviously Papelbon has exceeded anyone's expectations, but as prospects, how do they stack up?
Carl Goodrich, Mount Dora, Fla.
A: Carl, say hello to my Uncle Lee and Aunt Jean if you run into them; they're proud residents of Mt. Dora. I think Buchholz and Bowden have Sox management just as excited, if not more so, than Paps and Lester did. They're shooting up through the system, with Bowden recently becoming the youngest player (age 20) on the Portland roster, where he joins Buchholz. If I'm not mistaken, Bowden is in line to face Clemens when Portland plays Trenton on Wednesday.
Another Sox fan stuck in enemy territory here. So tell me, what happened to that crushing fastball swing Crisp had in Cleveland? I know his perhaps lingering finger woes may make him more apt to not go for the long ball, but what gives? Do you see a dinger hot streak this season, or is he really on pace for less than 10? Is this a legitimate concern at this point, or a re-modified approach?
Justin Matley, New York City
A: Justin, a very good question. Since I've never seen Coco at the top of his game -- unless you want to count spring training in 2006 -- I don't have much to go on, beyond what you also are seeing: He's not driving the ball the way we were led to believe he can. I don't think we've seen anything to suggest he's going to be taking people deep at a regular clip anytime soon. I could see a single digit home run total by year's end, and you wonder how much the finger is still an issue. Teams are becoming increasingly secretive about medical issues.
Gordon, am I alone (and if so, please pass this along to Theo Epstein and Terry Francona) but if (heaven forbid) Josh Beckett has to go on the DL (I am biting my tongue), wouldn't it be smart to give his Friday start to Clay Buchholz? I mean, if he gets banged around, no biggie. He's a young kid from Double A......BUT, if he does what I think he can do....Woo-Hoo!!!!
Doug Berlin, Jamestown, NY
A: Doug, by now, of course, you know how this all played out. The Sox did indeed place Josh Beckett on the DL, with the hope that he will be back on May 29 against Cleveland, and because of Thursday's double-header wound up needing two kids. Devern Hansack got knocked around, but Kason Gabbard pitched very well Sunday. Buchholz had to be mighty tempting to the Sox, too, and if there's a game after the All-Star break where they need another starter, they may feel he's ready for the big stage, but for now they're content to let him continue his development in Double-A.
When the Sox named Jonathan Papelbon the closer, there were multiple reports that Joel Pineiro could be on the block. I have not heard anything since. With the injuries that teams are having both in their bullpens and starting rotations, couldn't the Red Sox dangle him? Something like Pineiro and Wily Mo Pena for a more well-rounded outfielder. Pena's defense is hurting us too much and I wouldn't want to see the Sox rush Jacoby Ellsbury even though he has been destroying all levels he plays at. Thoughts?
Jeremy Weiser, Wilmington
A: Jeremy, the reality is, there wasn't much of a market for Joel this winter, hardly surprising, of course, given his performance the last three years in Seattle. That's a big reason why he was willing to come to Boston and try to reinvent himself as a reliever. The closer experiment didn't work out, and I don't think he's shown enough in his limited work this spring to cause teams to knock Theo's door down for a chance to get him. As for outfield options if the Sox can no longer live with WMP's adventures -- and for now, I think they'll still put up with him -- they have guys who can do the job as a fourth outfielder in Pawtucket: David Murphy, Brandon Moss and eventually Ellsbury.
Gordon - For those of us Red Sox fans who are going to Texas to see the Red Sox games, what is the expected starting rotation? Have a Saturday night ticket; just wondering if I should get there earlier on Friday.
A: Deb, if you want to see Daisuke, I suggest you get there Friday. He's lined up to open the series against the Rangers.
Why are the Sox ignoring Craig Breslow? All he's done since joining the organization is get guys out, and looks far more ready for the show than Delcarmen or Hansen (or, for that matter, fellow lefty Javier Lopez).
Rudy Kilianski, Scottsdale, Ariz.
A: Rudy, Craig has been putting up nice numbers in Pawtucket, and I'm sure it must be frustrating for him, but it's a judgment call by the Sox talent evaluators, and they certainly seem to have made a good call in summoning Lopez. He had one rough inning against the Braves on Saturday, but has been unscored upon in his other five outings (4 IP).
Hi Gordon, I've noticed in Globe stories that more and more often, Mike Lowell is the go-to guy for concise and thoughtful pre and postgame analysis. Obviously, Lowell contributes a lot with both his glove (notwithstanding that odd streak of errors in April) and his bat -- hard to believe he was "unloaded" on us by the Marlins, isn't it? But can you say a little bit about what Lowell has meant to the club in terms of his intelligence, understanding of the game, and veteran presence? And is there any chance at all he'll be around next year? I've become a real admirer of the way this guy does business on and off the field.
Doug Reichert Powell, Oak Park, Ill.
A: Doug, your read on Mike, and our propensity to go to him for his take on things, is an accurate one. It's probably too soon to determine whether the Sox will bring him back next season, though he has made it clear he wants to stay and is playing at a very high level, leading the club in RBIs. But he is clearly among the leaders on this team, which has a strong veterans' presence with guys like Jason Varitek, David Ortiz, Alex Cora, Curt Schilling, Tim Wakefield, Mike Timlin, and Kevin Youkilis, who is only in his second full season but conducts himself like a guy who's been around much longer. I value Mike's opinion on a variety of topics, and appreciate his professionalism.
The improvement of Josh Beckett from last season to now has mostly been attributed to him better mixing his pitches and throwing his fastball less. The thing that gets lost in this is that Jason Varitek is a highly respected game-caller and staff leader. So are we to assume that Beckett spent last season shaking off 'Tek's requests for curveballs, or has there been an adjustment on the Captain's part as well?
Owen G., Santa Barbara, Calif.
A: Owen, I think Josh and Jason did require some time to get on the same page last season, and are much more in synch this season. I think both players would not dispute that.
It's tough to complain with the way the Sox have started this season but I'm going to do my best anyway. Do you find it at all concerning that the four Sox outfielders have 10 HRs collectively ? I can appreciate that this team is built differently than Sox teams of the past but to me this could be an issue as the season progresses. Regardless of the pitching, I believe a team in the AL needs to have some power throughout the lineup. With the limited power of Youkilis, Pedroia & Lugo the outfield needs to make up some of the gap. Ortiz can't do it all.
KC, New Jersey
A: KC, I would agree, but I think by the end of the season Manny and J.D. Drew will combine to hit anywhere from 50-60 HRs, Wily Mo will reach double figures and Hinske will pop a few. Coco, as I discussed in an earlier letter, we'll have to see. But I don't worry about power coming from No. 24.
Gordon, please tell me why the Sox feel it is OK to reschedule rained out games for the very next day. Some people have obligations like work that get in the way of our leisure time. These games should not be rescheduled for less than two weeks after the games. People need time to get these days off. Last year, I got burned on a rained out game, had to work the next day, and miss a walk off Papi home run. It's disrespectful to fans.
Matt, South Boston
A: Matt, I feel your pain. I thought about all the folks who got washed out Wednesday and were expected to show up the next afternoon to see Sox-Tigers. But it was Detroit's only time in, which was the same issue with the Braves game washed out Friday. It's a price the fans have to pay for interleague play, which accounts for teams making only one visit in. I understand your frustration, but I don't think the Sox can be held culpable.