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.
I am a big fan of your column and enjoy your insight into what is going on with the Sox. My question has to do with Josh Beckett's avulsion. Do you feel that since he appears to be throwing more breaking balls that it has caused more friction and therefore exacerbated his propensity for blisters and avulsions? Do you feel that he may start to fall back into throwing more fastballs simply to reduce the possibility of having more finger problems?
Mark Byron, Hallowell, Maine
A: Mark, the torn skin on Beckett's finger has healed quickly, a tribute, pitching coach John Farrell said, to the work assistant trainer Mike Reinold did with laser techniques and creams. Beckett throws a side session on Saturday, then is penciled back into the rotation on Tuesday. I think until we see him pitch, we can't say whether he'll cut back on using his curveball, but that obviously would make him much more hittable. Concerns about his breaking ball triggering another round of blister issues probably did play some part in his cutting back last season, but I think the Sox would sooner keep him out longer and give the skin a greater chance to toughen up than have him abandon his curve. He told reporters that the tear might have been caused by a ball with higher than usual seams.
I love your work for the Globe and for NESN! You always have quality insights! Anyway, my question concerns Jonathon Papelbon. I'm concerned that he isn't getting used enough. His last few outings, he really didn't look too sharp (they were both non-save situations with a lot of pitches being thrown). I understand that his shoulder needs to be monitored, but too little use seems to be making it difficult for him to stay sharp. And with 20-25 pitches, he's not always available the next night. If the Red Sox are so concerned about his shoulder and arm causing him trouble later in the year that they need to limit him to the extent that he can't stay sharp, and thus lose him for the next night, then doesn't it make sense to reinvestigate the possibility of acquiring a closer (if one is available) and moving him back into the rotation? Thanks for taking the time to read this. It means a lot to a Red Sox fan stuck in Yankee territory! Keep up the good work!
Rick Miller, Syracuse, NY
A: Hey Rick, thanks for the good word. Paps' lack of work has had less to do with concern about his shoulder and everything to do with a lack of save opportunities. There have been very few this month. I joke with him a lot about how little work he's getting, and he agrees with you that was the cause of his lack of sharpness, but in the end he's convinced this is a great thing, because he'll be that much stronger late in the season.
I was just reading that book "How to Talk to a Yankee Fan" and it got me to thinking how the Yankee fans' arrogance grew the more they won. Do you think if the Yankees continue to spend and falter while the Red Sox keep putting solid teams on the field thanks to some spending (J.D. Drew not included) and player development, that Red Sox fans can fall into the trap of being obnoxious, arrogant louts? (Of course, there are some already, but I mean as a stereotype.) What would you say to warn us collectively against that? Thanks and keep up the great work!
Drew Hogan, Santa Monica, Calif.
A: Drew, Let's not kid ourselves here-the Sox are right there with the Yanks when it comes to the "big spenders" category. Only the big boys could lay out $50m just to talk to Daisuke. And believe me, a lot of fans around the country already look at Sox fans as spoiled and self-indulgent whiners who don't know what it's like to be fans of true perennial losers, like the Royals the last 20 years or the Pirates for even longer. I don't know, in-your-face talking smack seems to be so much in vogue today, I imagine there's an element of Sox fans that won't be immune to that. I just hope the majority continue to be the balanced, fair, compassionate, intelligent souls who chant "Yankees suck" at a Devil Rays game!
Gordon, I had the opportunity to watch Clay Buchholz in action the other night on MLB.com. I can't begin to tell you how impressed I was. After surrendering 4 consecutive (and not very hard hit) singles and two runs, Buchholz shoved the bats down Trenton's throats. Ex-major league ballplayer turned color man Billy Sample couldn't stop gushing about Buchholz's performance. Could you please let us know Theo Epstein's thoughts (he was at the game) and if he has an ETA for Buchholz in Boston. Also, I would appreciate if you could find out the mph's of Clay's pitches as they didn't have a gun on the telecast. Thanks.
Doug Berlin, Jamestown, NY
A: Doug, I haven't heard Theo's thoughts lately on the topic, but I can tell you that the Sox are determined not to rush Buchholz, which is why you saw Devern Hansack and Kason Gabbard last weekend. I also would be surprised to see them move Buchholz up one level, to Triple-A, any time soon. Why not let him continue to have success and develop at the Double-A level? He could still come into camp and compete for a spot on the big-league staff next spring. I would think he'd have to be considered a serious candidate for a spot in '08, and certainly no later than '09. Incidentally, he has 60 Ks in 45 2/3 innings with Portland, with at least seven strikeouts in his last six starts. The Sea Dogs record for most K's in first seven starts is 67, held by Josh Beckett.
I have watched nearly every Red Sox game for the past two seasons and have noticed a slight decrease in Jonathan Papelbon's velocity this year. He seems to be more in the low 90s than the mid to upper 90s. Can this be attributed to a discrepancy in the various radar guns around the league, or has he lost a few miles per hour? Perhaps more importantly -- does it matter?
Lee Huckleberry, Louisville, Ky.
A: Lee, I received an e-mail from another reader, contending that Papelbon's arm slot was significantly lower and his velocity was down. But in Yankee Stadium earlier this week, Paps had lots of gun readings at 96-97. He blamed his command issues on a lack of work more than anything else. John Farrell disputes the lower arm slot, too. You are correct, by the way, that gun readings vary considerably from stadium to stadium.
With the draft in two weeks, will the Red Sox be looking for more pitching or hitting. Aside from Lars Anderson I'm not aware of any power bats we have in the farm. Where are our picks?
Ken Kimball, Celebration, Fla.
A: Ken, the Sox don't have a first-round pick. Their first-round pick, the 20th selection overall, went to the Dodgers as compensation for the signing of Julio Lugo, a Type A free agent. The Sox picked up two supplemental first-round picks. They will have the 55th pick overall, courtesy of the Cincinnati Reds' signing of Alex Gonzalez, and the 62d pick, the result of the Cleveland Indians signing Keith Foulke, who subsequently retired. Their next pick will come in the second round, the 85th player overall. The Sox have some young power in the system, namely Anderson and his teammate in Greenville, Jason Place, and perhaps we need to add Aaron Bates to that list. As Amalie Benjamin writes in her minor league notebook this week, Bates hit four home runs in a game for Class A Lancaster, which plays in a wind-aided environment in the California League, but that's still impressive.
Did you (or anyone else) notice that the number 51 was all over Tuesday's game against the Yankees?
Weird, no? I kept hoping this would somehow turn out to be an omen for the Celtics that night - and it did. They got the No. 5 pick instead of the No. 1!
Jeremy Goldstein, Jamaica Plain
A: Jeremy, numerologists everywhere thank you. I did not notice. I was taking my 51st catnap of the night and missed it!
There seems to be more and more emphasis on on-base percentage as a better measurement of a player's offensive value than batting average. Why doesn't the Globe include OBP in box scores, extended stats, etc?
Orrin Colley, Duxbury
A: Orrin, I imagine it's a space issue, though I suppose we could certainly include OBP on our online box scores.
Gordon -- I have no idea how to pose this question to Janet Marie Smith in the Red Sox organization so thought I'd ask you. When the last round of improvements were made to Fenway there was one important thing taken away -- the lineup white board on Yawkey Way. There was a sense of tradition about always going to the board to see the lineup for the day. Handwritten and dirty, it reminded one of the simpleness of the game. Do you know if it was moved (I looked several times around the park but never found it), or if not, can you get word to the Sox they should bring it back. Thanks.
Nancy Carlin, Southborough
A: Nancy, I saw it inside the course, not far from home plate, maybe a bit to the third-base side. The tradition lives on.
Glad Yanks fans are so excited about the 3rd (or 4th?) coming of Roger Clemens. The Rocket is getting $28m [prorated] and he gave up 3 runs in 5 innings in Double-A. Our man Lester has a sub-2 era in his Triple-A rehab assignment. My dream matchup this year is Lester vs. Clemens. Sawx win 8-2.
A: Hey Brian, don't know if you were looking for this letter to be published, but I thought Sox fans would enjoy your perspective.
The emergence of Javier Lopez this month has been a very nice surprise. What has been the key to his success? And since the Sox would have 3 good lefties in the bullpen if he continues to pitch well, do you see them dealing from a position of strength and trading Lopez or Romero?
Michael Souder, Golden, Colo.
A: Michael, I think the biggest difference with Lopez is the improvement in his control. Last season, he walked 10 batters in 16 2/3 innings, including lefthanded hitters six times. There are few things that make a manager crazier than bringing in a guy to face a lefty, and having him walk him. This season, Javier has walked just three batters in 9 1/3 innings, and has yet to walk a lefthanded hitter. I can't see trading him;.his emergence could make Romero more tradable, though, although I think the Sox like the way their bullpen is aligned.
Hi Gordo, enjoy the column. My question pertains to Wily Mo Pena. If other players, pitchers in particular, can be sent down to the minors on a rehab stint for a mysterious injury, to create a roster spot for someone else why don't the Red Sox use that option for WMP and give him a month or so of playing every day?
Brian Kelley, Newton
A: Brian, a popular question, and one that has been answered many times and will be answered here again. When Wily Mo was a teenager, the Yankees signed him to a major-league contract, which means they had to place him on their 40-man major-league roster. In three years, all of his minor-league options were used up. So, even though WMP needed to play every day in the minors, the Cincinnati Reds, who got WMP from the Yanks, couldn't send him down without putting him on waivers first, which means another team would have grabbed him. The Red Sox are in the same predicament.
Gordo, I'm out at college in Pennsylvania taking some summer courses and rely on your articles to keep me up to date, however I recently picked up the mlb.tv option. As all of Red Sox Nation I've enjoyed the success of the Sox this season, but my question is about Boston sports in general. I am originally from Chelmsford and asked my Dad about how weird it must be to see the Red Sox and Patriots having success while the Celtics and Bruins struggle. For the Celtics, there are some distinct reasons for why this happened, but what are your thoughts on this? Does this have anything to do with owners, or is it strictly players not performing, etc? Keep up the good work!
Ben Hoover, Easton, Pa.
A: Ben, having grown up when the Celts were winning championships and the Bruins packed the Garden whenever they played, it's sad and unsettling to see both teams slipping into irrelevancy. The Celtics' misfortunes are well known, but as Jackie MacMullan points out in her terrific column in Friday's Globe, the Celts have also made a series of personnel miscalculations that time and again have blown up in their faces. As for the B's, I think the hardcore fans will tell you things aren't going to change until there is a change in ownership. But what do I know?
Gordon, I keep hearing about A-Rod and how after this season he will use the out-clause in his contract to become a free agent. I think it's time we lock up our current 3B Mike Lowell who is in the last year of his current contract. As a "throw-in" in the Josh Beckett deal, Mike has revitalized his career. When is management going to understand we need to lock him up BEFORE he reaches free agency. Is there even any indication that the Sox Brass will extend his stay in a Boston uniform? I know I'm not the only Red Sox fan that would love to see him man third base for a at least a few more years to come.
Daniel Pimentel, Belmont
A: Daniel, I think there are a lot of Sox fans who would heartily embrace your position, and Mike has said he wants to stay. Last season, you may recall, he also got off to a fast start before tapering off; I think the Sox want to see evidence that won't happen again. His age (33) and price ($9m this season) are issues; I would be surprised if the Sox did something in-season.
Can you tell me how I can contact someone in the department of community relations for the Red Sox? My brother-in-law, who is a life long red Sox fan is battling cancer and about the only thing that keeps him going these days is watching the Red Sox play. I want to try and get him a baseball signed by current members of the team and present it to him when I next come east to visit him in Princeton where he lives. Can you advise? Thanks for your help.
Robert Scott, San Francisco
A: Robert, two ways...You can call 617-226-6000 or write Community Relations, c/o Boston Red Sox 4 Yawkey Way Boston Ma 02215. Our prayers and best wishes go to your friend.
Hi Gordon....love the mailbag and your chats. Weird question here...did the Sox establish a "no one sitting behind home plate can be on their cell phone and wave at their friends" rule this year or are people finally realizing that they look like idiots when they do it? So glad this year it seems fans behind home plate aren't doing this anymore.
Liz Devlin, Somerville
A: Liz, I don't know of any hard and fast rules that prohibit fans from doing so, and I think I've spotted a few fans from time to time. Nice to believe that people might finally have caught on, no?