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.
Gordon, nice to have a platform with which to ask a question. With all the talk in town about who is coming, who is going, and what is available, do the Red Sox really need to make any moves? It seems like they just need to get their rotation set and their bats to wake up. The Sox are on pace at least with last year, if not better. Why tinker with something that could be so much better? Thanks Gordon
A: Emil, that's why you see so few teams making moves this early (though Theo shook things up a couple of years ago at the end of May when he shipped out Shea Hillenbrand for B.K. Kim). Teams need time to evaluate, to determine whether guys who are struggling at this time are experiencing temporary glitches (David Wells, Keith Foulke, Edgar Renteria and Kevin Millar) or whether their problems will continue. The Schilling factor is also big -- when does he come back, and how effective will he be when he does come back? It would not surprise me in the least to see Theo deal for more pitching before the trading deadline.
I have to agree with David Ortiz when he says Latin American ballplayers are at a disadvantage when it comes to steroids. Four of the five players suspended (Alex Sanchez, Jorge Piedra, Augustin Montero, and Juan Rincon) are Latin American. ESPN's SportsCenter steroid special stated that young Dominicans purchase steroids all the time, often without any idea of what they're taking because the labels and ingredients are stated in English. Major League Baseball needs to make sure that these players are educated about the harm that steroids can do to the human body. In addition, these steroid companies need to label their supplements and list their ingredients in Spanish (as well as English, of course, lest steroid suspect Gary Sheffield has an excuse to ignore what he's taking).
Jake, Brunswick, Maine
A: Jake, let me pass on comments made by Indians infielder Alex Cora, who was a union player representative with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Cora, who was born in Puerto Rico, said that both the Dodgers and Indians did a good job of educating their players, both in the majors and minors, about the dangers of steroid use, and also cited the work of the players' union, most notably Tony Bernazard, now with the Mets for doing the same with big leaguers. "To say we're not informed here is wrong," Cora told Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. "You get it in English and in Spanish. ... You have to take responsibility and read it. It's like any policy with any job." Jose Guillen, a Dominican, sounded a similar theme. "You can trust me on this -- they all know what's going on and they're all aware," Guillen told the AP. "They have been watching the TV. It has been in the Dominican. It has been all over the place in Spanish and in English." Three of the suspended players have been in the States for some time: Alex Sanchez since 1996, Juan Rincon since 1997, and Agustin Montero, since 1995.
Three of the five players who tested positive in spring training under the big-league policy were from Latin American countries. Among 48 minor-leaguers who tested positive in spring training, 24 were from Latin American countries. Is it a language barrier -- and believe me, I know some things do get lost in translation, or is something else at play? Like the fact that many of the substances on MLB's banned list are legal in Latin America and can be obtained over the counter?
Did Dan Duquette get a World Series ring (for obvious reasons)? And, would Theo Epstein ever consider hiring him as a top talent scout? I always thought that was one of his strongest assets, or is it just too much water under the bridge, so to speak? That aside, Theo and his minions are so rational and unsuperstitious, don't you, Mr. Edes, think that it is a good idea? Especially if the Red Sox, as an organization, really want to go for the kill?
Mitchell, San Francisco
A: Mitchell, the reasons you consider obvious for rewarding Dan Duquette with a Series ring evidently aren't quite as apparent to the Sox, who to my knowledge did not send a ring Dan's way. Clearly, Dan made substantial contributions to the current roster, most notably Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield and Manny Ramirez (though the current administration considers Manny's contract an albatross), but as you know, the parting was not amicable. I think Dan has a grander vision for his return to the game than coming back as a scout. He was considered for the position of assistant GM in Arizona, and it would not shock me if Dan becomes a GM candidate there if Joe Garagiola Jr. winds up in the commissioner's office as successor to Sandy Alderson. I think Dan also might be a player in D.C., depending on which ownership group gets the club.
Last year, after Manny had been offered to the league, he came back with a solid attitude ready to do whatever it took to win. When he was named the MVP of the World Series, he got little applause; in fact Terry F. said the award should really go to the whole team. And while he was right, he wasn't, because he should have applauded Manny, not slighted him. NOW, after another winter of being on the block, Manny seems disheartened. Is there really any wonder why he seems to be "average"?
Scott, Mont Vernon, NH
A: Scott, I'm not sure Manny was slighted at the time he won the Series MVP; he certainly didn't act insulted during the victory parade, did he? And a legitimate case could have been made for Keith Foulke, whom the New York writers named as their Series MVP. I've given up trying to understand Manny and what motivates him. Maybe we're all overanalyzing and he's merely struggling through the first prolonged slump of his career. Lately, he's been hitting a few balls the other way, so maybe he's starting to come out of it.
Hi Gordon. Greetings from Red Sox Nation, Atlanta Chapter. I am wondering what your thoughts on the whole David Wells disaster are. I cannot remember a pitcher as bad as this guy. He is thoroughly disgusting to watch. And it does appear that it is all about him hitting his incentives not contributing to a team. How can the Red Sox get rid of this guy? Is he really paid more than Kevin Millar, Bronson Arroyo, Tim Wakefield, Mike Timlin and Alan Embree? Your thoughts?
A: Donna, there are worse places to be a part of the Nation than in Atlanta, a great town that has a lot more going for it than runaway brides! Wells himself admits he's been awful and doesn't expect the Sox to keep him around long if he keeps pitching this way. I cut him some slack for his poor outing in Oakland, given that he had missed so much time, but I don't think David should be faulted for coming back when he did and not making a rehab start. All parties -- player, manager, GM, pitching coach -- were agreed on Wells pitching against the A's; he just stunk up the joint. And if teams don't want players trying to make contract incentives based on games pitched or played, they shouldn't structure the contracts that way.
Hey, maybe I'm naïve, but I don't think Wells took the hill in Oakland knowing he was going to stink out the joint but elected to pitch anyway, knowing it would count toward his performance incentives. I certainly didn't think he was disgusting to watch last month in back-to-back good performances against the Orioles and D-Rays. That said, he has to start turning it around quickly, beginning with this Sunday's start against the Yankees, or the Sox will have a major bust on their hands.
Baseball America is reporting that the Sox have interest in using one of their high draft picks on shortstop Yuniel Escobar Almenares from Cuba. Have you heard of this? Given the Sox preference for college players and organization depth at SS, it seems unlikely they would draft the Cuban among the first 60 in a few weeks.
El Guapo's Ghost, Vt.
A: There's a lot of guesswork going on right now, Guapo, but no, it would not shock me if the Sox used a pick on the Cubano. While their preference for college players is well known, their strategy is not inflexible. While their first 10 picks in the draft last season were college players, the Sox 11th pick (12th round) was left-handed high schooler Michael Rozier, to whom they gave a significant signing bonus. And because the Sox have good shortstops in the system would not keep them from drafting another if he was the best player on the board, in their view.
The drug testing policy proposed by Bud Selig and by Congress seem to have been poorly received by the players' union. This seems to have caused them to lose more face with an already skeptical fan base nationwide. At the same time, it appears that a number of players (Jason Giambi comes to mind) with large, long-term contracts who are not living up to their contracts are creating an untenable situation for owners and hard-working, high ticket-price-paying fans as well. Personally, I believe that the Major League Baseball Players Union has lost a great deal of leverage over the past year and that MLB is on the verge of serious economic reform. In particular, I can envision either a.) the creation of a salary cap or b.) a new era with no guaranteed contracts. Do you think this is the case, or do you see Major League Baseball continue its trend of inflated contracts and "above the law" behavior?
A: Rob, there is no question that the union has taken some major hits over the drug issue, and that Bud Selig holds the hammer in forging a new drug testing policy, perhaps the first time in decades that the owners had an advantage on any front. But believe me, Rob, the union remains a formidable force when it comes to the economics of the game. Guaranteed contracts are not going away -- no one is forcing teams to give players long-term deals, and frankly, I was surprised that the trend away from such long deals appeared to reverse itself last winter, with the deals given Carlos Beltran and all the four-year deals given free-agent pitchers. And except for the real hard-liners, I think the owners have pretty much conceded that a salary cap isn't going to happen, and that the combination luxury tax/revenue sharing is bringing some economic balance to the game.
To tell you the truth, Rob, I am not unsympathetic to some aspects of the union's position on drug testing, particularly in its concerns that the focus should be on ridding the game of steroids, not inflicting severe punitive measures, and the appropriateness of these matters for collective bargaining, as opposed to being unilaterally imposed. Two-year ban for first offense, as the federal government proposed, strikes me as excessive.
Gordo, love your work. Interleague play is here again and the debate rages. What bothers me most about ILP is not whether or not it should exist, but that MLB has yet, after nine seasons, to come up with a definitive plan for its future. It still seems "thrown together." The thing that seems to be holding it back is the insistence that every year the Yankees play the Mets, Cubs-White Sox, etc. My solution: a four-year rotation, the three divisions all play each other over three years and the fourth year (to appease those who don't like it), no ILP. Yes, that means the Yanks-Mets would be only once every four years, but football hasn't suffered just because the Jets and Giants only hook up once per Olympiad. Your thoughts?
Johnny, Dover, NH
A: Johnny, thanks for the good word, and while your idea has some merit, it ain't going to fly? Why? Because Yanks-Mets, Cubs-White Sox, Dodgers-Angels are huge moneymakers, maybe the best reason to have interleague play at all.
I have been a Red Sox fan for so many years. Whenever I have a chance I always watch them on TV. To win the 2004 World Series was the most satisfying experiences I have had. This year watching my Boston Red Sox team I observed some flaws and non-productive stretches from their good hitters. Too many runners are stranded. If I am manager Terry Francona I would probably move Edgar Renteria down the eighth spot in the batting order and move up Trot Nixon to the second spot. I see Edgar Renteria just pressing too hard in that second spot in the batting order and too many runners in scoring position get wasted. I would move back David Ortiz to the fourth spot as the cleanup hitter and move Ramirez back to No. 3. Jason Varitek would take the fifth spot, followed by Bill Mueller, Kevin Millar, Edgar Renteria and Bellhorn. Renteria will provide spark and take the pressure off himself. It is only my observation, analysis and suggestion. Of course Francona has the final say and so far he has done a very good job running the ball club. Thank you and more power to you and hope Boston Red Sox will repeat as World Champs.
Rex, Mililani, Hawaii
A: Hey, Rex, excuse us for being jealous and thinking that the great thing about being in Hawaii is that you have lots of time to sit on a beach and scratch out possible Sox lineups. If Renteria doesn't come around soon, I suspect Francona will do precisely as you suggest and drop Edgar down until he starts hitting. Personally, I think he'll be hitting .275 by mid-June, but we'll see. I don't know about Manny-Ortiz; he seems committed to sticking with his flip-flop, but if Manny doesn't start heating up, they could go back to last season's lineup. It certainly isn't etched in stone.
How did the Red Sox get chosen to play in the Hall of Fame Game? Is it random? What do you think of sending Manny and others in a game that doesn't count in the standings?
A: Cegeon, it's completely random. The Sox haven't been in Cooperstown since 1989, when they were supposed to play the Reds. Instead, they played an intrasquad game with a bunch of minor leaguers when the Reds had plane problems and couldn't make it. Not to worry about Manny; he was off doing a TV commercial and didn't make it to Cooperstown. Terry Francona gave at-bats to his coaches, the bullpen catcher and PR guy Peter Chase.
Hi from Portland Seadogs country Gordon! I'm wondering why the Red Sox haven't moved Hanley Ramriez to a new position? Edgar Renteria is clearly going to be the Red Sox starting shortstop for the next 4 years. Shouldn't Hanley be learning how to play centerfield or some other position this year?
Robert, Portland, Maine
A: Robert, who knows, maybe the plan will be to keep Hanley at short and move Edgar to third? A-Rod did it, Cal Ripken did it, maybe Edgar will be next. They've got time on their side. If a position change is in the offing, the Sox could have Hanley play elsewhere in winter ball, instructional league and/or spring training.
I was reading Eric Wilbur's latest column and came across a link to a NY Times article saying how the Red Sox have to win the division this year to "complete the exorcism." Now I expect poor journalism from the Post, but not the Times. This was one of the worst articles I've ever read. We're only a quarter of the way through the season, and because the Yanks won 12 of 14 to pull within 2 1/2 games, the Sox have already 'blown it.' He also cited our recent poor pitching, this article being written the day after Clement pitches a complete game to beat the Braves. His singular example for our poor pitching was Wells' last start, but he wrote it as if it's been a rotation-wide trend. Does this guy (Murray Chass) have a clue about baseball? Somebody please educate him, and tell him that if he's going to write a biased article, at least know what you're talking about.
John, Port St. Lucie, Fla.
A: Well, John, for openers, Murray Chass last year was elected into the writers' wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame, so presumably he knows a few things about the game. That said, I found the piece to be a head-scratcher myself. I don't think there is a Sox fan alive who would happily concede the division to the Yankees if the Red Sox were playing in the World Series.