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.
Given that the Sox are standing at the top of their division and leading the league in fielding percentage, why is everyone in such a rush to remove Wily Mo and A-Gonz? Wily Mo has shown what I would consider to be remarkable improvement in his batting average, patience at the plate, and his defense. Though I agree he's definitely a work in progress (though obviously a huge up from Mohr and Harris). Gonzalez is part of an infield that is tops in the league, nothing gets past him. You mentioned Lugo, but he is a league leader in errors, shouldn't we have learned from Renteria last year that a defensive liability is much more costly than an offensive one? Seems like Gonz is involved (potentially) in every play defensively and if he can save runs there it'd be as beneficial if not more beneficial than batting .300. Plus, he's showing signs of improvement... Thoughts?
-- J. Michael, Boston
A: JM, Clearly, the Red Sox feel that in a lineup like theirs, they can survive one black hole, which essentially is what Gonzalez is at the plate, if he gives them the kind of defense he's playing, which may be at a higher level than anyone else in the big leagues. He's been phenomenal in the field, and truly does make tough plays look easy. If the rest of the offense keeps percolating, there's no need to upgrade offensively, though I do think the Sox eventually would like better balance at the position, which is where the Lugo rumors come in. And Renteria's doing awfully well in Atlanta, the last time I checked. But I would agree with much of what you say about Wily Mo .I think we have to allow more time to pass before we pronounce the winner of the Arroyo-Pena deal. I'd say it's been win-win so far, given the Sox needs after Coco broke a finger.
Do you think Terry F. is the right fit for this Billion dollar Team? what I mean is he is a players manager instead of a managers manager (ala Joe Torre, Lou Pinella, Tony La Russa) these guys are chess players and they are looked up to and there is a professional separation. They also do the little things consistently no matter who or what ego is asked to do it. Am I the select few who think he should be coaching in Single-A Port ST Lucie
Mets where its warm and he doesn't have shake, pace and rock back and forth and wonder what to do. thanks for reading
-- Christopher J. O'Connell
A: Christopher, I'm not sure how many folks share your thoughts, but I'm always left to wonder what it would take to make you happy, other than maybe Joe. Terry Francona's fit for this team, in my estimation, was demonstrated in 2004 and last year's return to the playoffs merely underscored that. I think the players respect Francona, play hard for him, and he is very well prepared. And he wins. What else do you want from a manager? Believe me, every manager makes strategic decisions in the course of a game that are open to debate-that's one of the reasons why we all love the game as much as we do, because we all believe we know something about the strategy of the game, and we don't have to wait to "watch the films" to know what happened. Where we laymen and fans are so often wrong is that the manager often is equipped with an entirely different set of information at his disposal than we have when he makes a decision. He may know who's hurting, who's unfocused, who's confidence is flagging, who needs a blow, who needs the chance to prove himself when it might make more sense to hit someone else, who needs to play, what pitcher-hitter matchup might come up three innings from now. Managing the game is only a small part of being a manager; managing 25 men is the far more demanding task, and I don't know how you can conclude that Francona has done anything but an exceptional job. And guess what: In the Yankees' clubhouse, I'll bet the players would tell you Joe is a players' manager, too.
Hey Gordon, I hear MLB will be playing exhibitions internationally to promote the world cup. Any chance any of those games will be in Finland? By the way, we are Red Sox fans here!
-- Donald Jordan, Vaasa, Finland
A: Donald, I've spoken with Sox CEO Larry Lucchino, a very active member of MLB's international committee, in the past on the topic, and I know baseball is taking a serious look at playing games in Europe, perhaps as soon as next year, though the countries I've heard most are England and Italy. Finland? I'm delighted to hear there are ball fans there-I'm sure Conan O'Brien, the look-alike for your president, Tarja Halonen, would also be pleased to know, but I don't think baseball is quite ready to take the plunge there. But believe me, I'd much prefer a visit to Helsinki to another visit to, say, Kansas City!
Tuesday night vs. NY Francona sent Wakefield out to start the 7th inning with his pitch count at 101, after getting two out he proceed to walk two straight on eight pitches. With his pitch count now at 119 and a rested bullpen he left him in there to face A-Rod who hit a three-run home run. The next night he sticks with Clement way to long when it was obvious to everyone on the ballpark he had nothing, especially after getting hit in the leg... then on Thursday after 6 innings with Beckett's pitch count at 101 (the same as Wakefield's on Tuesday) and NOT a rested bullpen he pulled him from the game even though he was cruising. What is wrong with Tito? He is living up to the Terry FranCOMA nickname.
-- Patrick Flynn, Hadley
A: Patrick, let's go in reverse chronology. Beckett came out of Thursday's game because he ASKED out. He said he was gassed. Easy decision.
The Clement decision? When would you have pulled him, in the second, when the Yankees hit him with a 4-spot, all with two out? You're not going to yank him in the third or fourth, right, when the Yanks put men on base and didn't score. The fifth? A-Rod opened with a bloop hit. Take him out then? Cano follows with a ground-ball base hit. Is that when you take the ball away? Sox are ahead, remember, 5-4. Bernie singles to knock in a run, tying the score. OK, you could make a case for taking him out then, but you've got the 8-9 hitters coming up, Long and Stinnett. Long grounds a single, Now, if you're Tito, you're maybe kicking yourself a little, but you say, all right, he's coming out after Stinnett. Clement punches out Stinnett, looks like a pretty good idea. Then Melky Cabrera grounds a single up the middle off Julian Tavarez, two runs scored, and everyone's wondering why Clement didn't come out sooner-ignoring the fact that the guy who replaced him allowed two inherited runners to score.
Wakefield Tuesday night? He comes into the seventh inning, down 4-1. He'd given up two singles since the third inning; the only Yankee run that scored after the third came in an inning with three passed balls. Except for Jeter's single in the third, no Yankee had hit the ball out of the infield. Wake walks two guys, but the knuckler's dancing, and A-Rod is at the plate, a guy who had whiffed his previous two times up and flied out on his first AB. An automatic that Wake comes out? Not in my mind.
Hi Gordon, you know, I cannot understand having the point of view that the Arroyo-Pena trade can be viewed as anything less than a disaster. Year after year shows us that PITCHING wins, period. For all the Sox hitting two years ago, they would never have won the WS without Pedro and otherworldly post seasons by, Schill, Lowe, and Foulke. Now, with only two reliable starters plus three No. 5s, we're reduced to speculating about signing Clemens, speculating about trading for Willis, speculating about when Lester will be ready, etc., while starters #3-5 do not get the job done. None of that would be necessary w/o this trade. Arroyo is exactly what the Sox need - a solid, versatile, relatively young, good attitude - and moderately paid - starting pitcher. It would be no surprise if the guy wins 15 (or more) games a year for the next 5-7 years. If Wily Mo becomes the next new great slugger, OK, but more likely he'll continue to be a strikeout-prone platoon player who's somewhat better than Justin Mohr. And that, Gordon, is not going to bring another WS to Boston. Pitching, on the other hand...
-- Gary Tunnicliffe, New York, N.Y.
A: Gary, I think the Sox had anticipated Papelbon being in their rotation by now, which would have more than adequately compensated for the loss of Arroyo, but that plan blew up when he was brilliant as closer. Wells' injury, of course, made the Arroyo deal more problematic, but the Sox would hardly characterize Wakefield and Clement as No. 5's, and they felt they could get by until Lester is ready or they make a big-time deal-signing Clement, for example, or trading for a Willis or Zito or a pitcher who may be on the block because his team has fallen out of contention. In the meantime, there was a chance to pick up a player with a potentially huge upside in Pena. I think in the Red Sox calculus, there is a far greater chance of Pena blossoming into a big-time slugger than Arroyo becoming a consistent 15-game winner like you posit.
Mr. Edes, I touched on this question yesterday with your chat but you could not address it since there were many great questions that you did answer.
As the Sox are money ball proponents, I think they should spend more time addressing the psychological make up of a player. Clement does not appear and Renteria did not have the mental toughness to play in Boston. On the other hand, Beckett is so tough mentally as is Schilling to name a couple. I almost think that may have been part of the problem with Bronson. I simply have a hard time believing he would have the same success this year in Boston as he is having in Cinn.
I hope that Theo is looking at moving Clement simply to give a fine player an opportunity to pitch and relax a little. Perhaps San Diego, KC, or Seattle?
Meanwhile, the Sox should sign Beckett to a long-term contract ASAP, right?
Gordon, I REALLY liked those voiceovers of the still pictures that you did after the Yankee / St Louis games in 2004. The music that would lead in to the dialogue It was a great job by you and others. Ken Burns has nothing on you and the team that produced it.
I am an older Sox fan. Use to attend Fenway in late 50's and early 60's and watched Teddy W. play. I played American Legion ball for Haverhill in '61 and '62 and played against Tony and Billy Conigliaro. Now in Daytona and travel to Tampa for the Sox and Devil Rays. BUT, I have tickets for Yankee's / Sox 8/21 Monday afternoon.
Thanks in advance for the time.
-- Jim Hodges, South Daytona Beach, Fla.
A: Jim, great note, and I especially appreciate the comment about our audio slideshows, which were done with one of my very favorite people, Eddie Medina, a talented young guy who regrettably left Boston.com and is now doing great things in New York. I think the Boston.com people are just scratching the surface of the kinds of things we will be featuring on the site in the future I'm just glad they're dragging an old guy like me along for the ride.
I do believe the Sox consider makeup a very strong component of succeeding in the big leagues, especially in a place like Boston. I believe that very much entered in their decision to add guys like Coco Crisp and Mark Loretta, for example, or why they locked up Jason Varitek while allowing other FA's to leave. They clearly misjudged Edgar's capacity to make the adjustment Tony La Russa certainly looked prescient when he raised doubts about Edgar being comfortable in Boston even before last season began. I would disagree with you on Arroyo; I think Bronson had the right temperament to pitch in Boston and performed well here; he pitched in some pressure-packed games while he was here and thrived. I would say there is evidence that Matt Clement, like Renteria, might fare better in a different environment, that he imposes even greater pressure on himself here than he might do elsewhere, although I don't want to do too much psychoanalysis here. But I assure you, even as the Sox develop prospects in their minor-league system, a key part of their evaluation is how they think a player might do in Boston.
Hi Gordo, you mention that it's a realistic possibility that Clemens could end up in Boston, which would be great in that we add a HoF'er to the starting rotation. But I ask you would it make more sense for the Sox to go and get a guy like Dontrelle Willis (if and when available) or Barry Zito based on age and building for the future? Would love your take on this!
-- Andy Cuneo, Reston, Va.
A: Sure, from a long-term standpoint, either Willis or Zito make more sense. The difference, of course, is that with Clemens, you know he is available and he is only going to cost you money. The other two guys may not get dealt, though I suspect one or both will, and they're going to cost you high-end prospects.
First, let me say that your mailbag and chats are fantastic. Your insights truly make the following the team more enjoyable (especially for us out-of-towners).
Anyway, my question is this. Recently, I was watching a Sox-O's game, when the O's TV color man (either Buck Martinez or Jim Palmer) was talking about why Ortiz wears number 34. Just as they were explaining the reason(s), my wife started chattering at me, and even though I am usually an expert at pretending to listen to my wife while actually focusing on the game, in this case, my wife simply would not be denied.
Nevertheless, it sounded like it was an interesting story having something to do with Papi's father. So, would you be able to shed any light on why Papi wears No. 34?
-- Old Town (Va.) Red Sox
A: Old Town, c'mon now, there HAVE to be times your wife is more interesting than whatever a TV analyst is saying, and with far fewer commercials. The Ortiz story is actually a simple one: Papi, having come up with the Twins, was a big admirer of Kirby Puckett, and adopted the Hall of Famer's number in tribute to him.
Mr. Edes, do you think the Sox will attempt to acquire Kerry Wood from the Cubs. I know he is a free agent at the end of the year, and if he is healthy (which he is now) then he could really help out the rotation or bullpen. He seems right now to be an ideal closer, and with his state of health if the Sox did acquire him he'd be a good closer (for next year anyways). All those are good points are big ifs though. It would be cool though to have him, and if he did stay healthy there would be nothing but upside.
-- Mike Anderson, Lawrence
A: Mike, set aside the fact that Wood's injury history makes him a terrible risk, especially for the megabucks you'd have to pay him. He also has a no-trade clause in his contract, which all but rules out the Cubs moving him.
Starting pitching looks pretty spotty beyond Schilling and Becker and who knows what Wells have left and in relief Seanez and Tavarez have not gelled yet, do you think we willl see a trade outside the organization for another starter from having 7 and too many at beginning of season ? As much as I miss Bronson, we have to admit Wily Mo has been a good hitter and better in center field. Sox season ticket holder since 1978 living in Bangkok.
-- David Nardone, Bangkok
A: Dave, I refer you to some of the discussion that took place before your letter. But even if I think I already answered your question, anyone who writes from Thailand deserves inclusion in the "Bag.
Gordo, I enjoy your work, along with that of your Globe colleagues. However, I don't understand why there were player profiles in this week's paper about Bernie Williams and A-Rod that basically said how great they are and that fans are ignorant who boo them and/or dislike them. So what if we dislike A-Rod? And for all the numbers you guys provide, he is NOT a clutch player. Remember games 4-7 of the 2004 ALCS? Remember all the errors he's made against the Red Sox in critical innings that more often than not lead to unearned runs? I think a lot of us would have appreciated it if you had mentioned that in your piece instead of telling us that poor A-Rod was trying to be a nice guy the other night and some fan had the audacity to throw the ball back on the field. Remember when this guy started a benches clearing brawl because he got hit on his elbow pad with a breaking ball? Remember when he embarrassed himself on national television by attempting to slap the ball out of Bronson Arroyo's hands and then fiegned ignorance when he was called out for cheating? I guess my point is, why the pro-A-Rod stories? No one agrees with them or wants to read them. And if you're going to profile him, don't leave out all the legitimate reasons why people do dislike him. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
-- Bill C., Quincy
A: Bill, I don't think I went any deeper than the second paragraph of my A-Rod column before I mentioned the Arroyo "slap" play and Damon calling him a disgrace because of it. Later in the same column, I refer to his meltdown in the LCS in '04, and his flop in the playoffs last season against the Angels. But I do disagree with the contention that he is not a clutch player. There have been times he has failed in the white-hot spotlight, perhaps because he has put too much pressure on himself to prove himself a Yankee, but he was well on his way to being named MVP of the '04 LCS after the first three games before he and the rest of the team collapsed. You can't drive in 130 runs a year, year after year, and not be "clutch." I'm sorry. As for Bob Ryan's column on Bernie Williams, I think he was merely expressing his appreciation of a great player at the end of his career. Even a Yankee, especially a class act, like Bernie, deserves as much.
Michael Kay on YES went on and on during the Wed. night Yankee/Sox game about how a pitcher needs to brush back, bean or hit Manny because of his penchant for hitting homers off Yankee pitching and for standing at home plate watching his ball go over the wall when the Sox were behind on Tuesday. It was an obnoxious, unsportsmanlike display of arrogance. In an era when parents decry violence and scandal in sports, this type of diatribe is a slap in the face of all of us who have tried to promote sportsmanship in our children. I turned the TV to mute. I have more admiration than ever for Jerry Remy and the NESN broadcasters after listening to Michael Kay.
-- Frank J. Nebush, Jr., Utica, N.Y.
A: Frank, I didn't hear the YES broadcast, and while I find it plausible that Michael Kay would have suggested a brushback pitch might be expected-or in order-I find it inconceivable that Kay or any other announcer would call for a player to be beaned. I just doubt very much that's what he said. It would be very easy to argue that standing at home plate as if you're posing for a painting after hitting a home run is poor sportsmanship, and I'm sure you noted that Ramirez, after talking to A-Rod Wednesday, dropped his bat and ran right out of the box on both of his homers.
When Coco comes back, how about keeping Youkilis in the leadoff spot and putting Coco in the nine hole as a "second lead off man". That would keep Youk and his great OBP and pitches per plate appearance where they can do the most good. Loretta seems a good 2-hole hitter so why move him. And, yes, Coco is fast but isn't that kind of overrated when you have two huge hitters coming up in Ortiz and Manny? Now if Coco is batting ninth and gets on wouldn't that speed be more useful with Youks up next when there are lots of pitches he can run on? Also with Youks ability to get on base, Coco would have lots of chances to be moved over, with either a steal or a hit/walk by Youks. And then with Loretta there's a chance for a hit and run with both of them. Then of course you have the big boppers in the wing. What do you think?
-- Holly, R.I.
A: Holly, I'd say that based on what we saw from Coco in spring, he has every right to reclaim trhe leadoff spot, that his speed does give him the Sox another weapon that they didn't have with Youkilis and if Coco struggles in that role, you now know that Youks can handle it and you could move Crisp, as you suggest, into that No. 9, "second leadoff" spot. It's worth remembering that the Indians last season decided that Grady Sizemore was a better option to bat first than Coco, and they used Crisp in the 2-hole. I would agree with you that Loretta is an ideal No. 2 hitter.
Hi Gordon... I just wanted to bring something up. With the massive demand for major league baseball in the City of Boston, I think it would be a great idea to bring a second team to the city. The tickets available to see the Red Sox sold out in a manner of weeks. There are some scattered seats available, but not much. An expansion team in Boston would surely be a huge hit. Those who cannot get Red Sox tickets would have another option. A national league Boston team would open fans here to a whole new set of teams. A new Boston / New York rivalry would be born with the Mets. The City of Boston would make out financially by having another massive spectacle for people to spend money on Major League Baseball would make out because of the massive amount of ticket sales. Imagine, a "Civil War" rivalry could be born as the two Boston teams collide. If New York and LA can have two teams due to excessive demand, why not
-- Paul Peterson, Chelmsford
A: Paul, an interesting proposition, but over Larry Lucchino's dead body! Remember a few years ago, when the Expos were casting about for a temporary home? There was some talk about them sharing Fenway. But there's simply no way the Sox are going to devalue their franchise-and their TV market-by allowing another team to play here. Now, another team in north Jersey, to cut into the Yankees' market-the Sox would be all over that!
Gordo baby, Can you please tell me why Francoma doesn't put Loretta at short during interleague play? That way you take the weak hitting Gonzalez out of the lineup and keep Youklis and Lowell in it. Also, why doesn't Francoma 'some times' (like when they play the Yankees) put Varitek at DH when Wakefield pitches? Put Papi at first and you've got a powerful lineup. It seems like Terry lacks ingenuity at times....don't you think?
-- Reggie Lofton, Franklin
A: "Gordo baby?" I thought the last person to call me that was my 11th grade girlfriend. Loretta's days of playing short are over... he doesn't have the range. And you want to sit Youks and his league-leading OBP to play Varitek, who has been scuffling at the dish? But hey, thanks for making me feel 16 again.
Dear Gordon, have you ever, ever seen a batter who has just hit the ball well enough to carry out of the park, look straight up as if he has just hit a pop-up? I've been watching MLB for over 50 years, which includes watching a lot of power hitters, and I've never seen it. In the context of other recent events involving and comments from the Yankee third baseman, is it too early to ask: Is A-Rod getting a bit squirelly, at least at Fenway?
-- John G. Nelson, New York, N.Y.
A: John, no I've never seen anyone do that before, but even the A-Rod bashers can't be serious to think that it would have occurred to him to pretend like he didn't know where the ball was when he hit it. What, pray tell, would his motivation be, and as quick as he is on his feet, do you really think he'd have time to come up with that one?