Boston Globe baseball writer Gordon Edes checks in every week (usually on Wednesdays or Thursdays) to answer your questions on the Red Sox. Ask yours now, and come back next week to see if it was answered.
Gordo, I don't understand how you were so adamant about Roger Clemens and a return to Boston as recently as last week. When all indications pointed toward Houston, you specifically went on record saying you thought he would come to Boston. I know it was just an opinion, but how did you come to that conclusion? I mean, EVERY major media outlet was reporting Houston as the likely club he'd end up with... Just wondering as it tends to damage your credibility.
Chris Murphy, Washington, DC
A: Chris, that's a fair question. The safest posture to adopt all along would have been to say that Clemens was returning to Houston. When I first heard of Boston's interest in Clemens, I thought it ridiculous that he would leave home to come back here. But then I learned of the intensity with which the Sox pursued Roger, an effort that began back around Thanksgiving, when Bill Lajoie talked with the Hendricks brothers about reliever Braden Looper, another Hendricks client, and broached the topic of Clemens coming here. I spoke with some of Clemens's closest friends, who were convinced that the Sox genuinely had a shot, and Sox personnel who had spoken directly with Roger on numerous occasions and felt there was a solid chance he would come here. Curt Schilling, among others, had stayed in contact with Roger, and Clemens of course is close with pitching coach Al Nipper and first base coach Bill Haselman, both former teammates. There haven't been many times in the tenure of the Henry ownership that they have not been able to complete a mission they considered paramount. Here's Jayson Stark, on ESPN.com: "He was clearly tempted by all of them, and especially by the thought of going back to Boston, to rewrite a final chapter that has stuck in his digestive tract for a decade and a half.'' Again, the betting line has always been Houston, but if you accept the comments of Clemens, Hendricks and Sox executives in the aftermath of his decision, I think you would have to acknowledge that it wasn't such a far-fetched scenario after all. "I thought we had him,'' Red Sox chairman Tom Werner told my colleague Nick Cafardo Wednesday night in Toronto. I certainly thought they had a good chance, too.
It is obvious the Sox have severe depth issues with regards to their starting pitching. I think it's even naive to think Beckett & Schilling will go injury free the entire year. With that said, do they make a significant deal and give up a good prospect for a guy like Dontrlle Willis in Florida?
A: Now, that Roger is off the market, were going to hear Willis name more and more. Thus far, the Marlins have been adamant theyre not going to move him. As we get closer to the trading deadline, and more teams drop out of contention, well see more pitchers become available, but unless the Marlins change their minds or Billy Beane unloads Barry Zito (unlikely), a stud pitcher is unlikely to be on the market.
I just have a comment, not a question. On NESN's Sportsplus show last week, you stated with certainty that it was Omar Minaya who was responsible for trading Scott Kazmir from the Mets to the Rays for Victor Zambrano. I want to correct you by giving credit for one of the worst trades in baseball history (Nolan Ryan for Jim Fregosi is probably No. 1 on the list) to Jim Duquette, who was the "interim" GM of the Mets during the '04 season. Omar Minaya was still the GM of the Expos/Nationals at the time.
Phil Christiano, Quincy
A: Phil, You are, of course, absolutely correct. It was a dumb mistake on my part ... I knew it wasn't Steve Phillips, but I had forgotten Jim Duquette's one-year term as Mets GM, before Omar was brought on board. From Baseball America's Executive Database:
I had a bad week last week. Somehow, in my notes column on Sunday, I managed to make a left-hander out of Kansas City's Zack Greinke, a guy that I'd written about earlier this spring, and wrote he was an 18-game winner (preposterous on that team) when he was a 17-game loser. I think aliens must have invaded my typing fingers.
Let's make a deal. Sometimes I have the impression that Theo Epstein craves the action of making deals and that maybe he's happiest when a Pedro or Derek or Johnny goes elsewhere because of free agency and a better offer. This leads me to ask the question: Would the Sox have been better off just re-signing or not trading Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe, and Bronson Arroyo, all of whom were on the very successful 2004 team, which Theo pledged to make an effort to retain and all of whom are today among the top 20 starters (ERA-wise) in MLB?
Creighton Abrams, Springfield, Va.
A: Again, another fair question. While I believe Theo enjoys the art of the deal, I don't believe "craving the action" was in any way a factor in his decisions to cut ties with Pedro Martinez, Johnny Damon, and Derek Lowe, or to trade Bronson Arroyo. The Martinez and Damon decisions, as have been widely discussed many times before, came down to a cold calculation on the part of the Sox that they were going to peg their values at a certain figure and a certain number of years, and if another team wanted to eclipse that, so be it, that the Sox were prepared to live with the consequences. Pedro has pitched marvelously for the Mets, and has had a tremendous impact on that entire franchise. I have no doubt he would have been successful for the Sox as well, and all that money the Sox are still paying on Edgar Renteria's contract could have gone to Pedro instead. But Theo did not want to be locked into four years with Pedro ... once Omar Minaya offered the extra year, the Sox were out. We really need more time to render an ultimate judgment on this deal. Derek Lowe, at $9 million per for four years? Again, the Sox had reason to question, because of Lowe's erratic pitching in '04 and erratic behavior, whether he was worth a long-term commitment. For the first half of last season, Matt Clement appeared to be a more than adequate replacement; that is no longer the case, of course, but Lowe hasn't been Cy Young, either. And Damon is really beaten up physically right now, and it remains to be seen whether the Yankees will one day rue making a four-year commitment to him.
does Big Papi practice a little weak swing ground ball to third base in batting practice at all? I would think that would be the next step in countering the third baseman in left field or close to second base bag. He should try this at least at the first strike he gets, then he can pull the ball on the second and third strikes. Why continue to try to pull the ball if you can slap a little ground ball to the regular third base position and get on base for Manny?
Eric Waterman ,Westford
A: Eric, I agree there are times you want Ortiz to take what he can get so that he can get aboard before Manny, but shoot, I still want Papi driving the ball somewhere, otherwise you're neutralizing one of your team's biggest weapons, which is exactly what the opposition hopes you do.
I know it doesn't help the starting pitching, but why don't we seen
Manny Delcarmen and Jermaine Van Buren more instead of those 2 being the first sent back down
to the minors. Delcarmen had a rough start to the season in the majors but he
hasn't give up a run in his last 3 appearances and Van Buren has been great both
times they asked him to come in and keep it close. Either of them has to be
better options than David Riske (doesn't the name say it all?)
And lets hope Hansen (2.29 Triple-A ERA) and Lester (2.95 Triple-A ERA), who pitched like a stud in May after being held to a pitch count in April, will lend a hand sooner than later.
Matthew Kelly, Hixson, Tenn.
A: Matthew, judging from what we saw in Toronto, I think you're going to get your wish with Delcarmen and Van Buren, who both came up big for the Sox against the Jays. I agree that Riske has done little, from spring training on, to inspire trust that he can get the job done. Delcarmen and Van Buren will get their shot to prove they should stick, and Lester and Hansen are both on track to arrive sometime in the second half of the season, if not sooner.
Hi Gordon. I look forward to the mailbag every week. I've been wondering for a while now why Jason Varitek is batting fifth. I'm a huge Varitek fan, always will be ... but the numbers don't lie. His production is way down, so wouldn't it make more sense to drop him in the batting order? What are your thoughts on a Trot/Wily Mo platoon in the five-hole, followed by Lowell sixth, Tek seventh, Youk eighth, and Gonzalez ninth? Maybe Tek would get more comfortable hitting lower in the order, and a 7-8 of Tek and Youk would help rejuvenate the lower third of the order, which has been a sore spot all almost all season.
Matt Waymire, Binghamton, NY
A: Matt, it's not out of the question that the lineup will be reshuffled if Varitek continues to scuffle. He hit just .230 in May with 4 home runs and 17 RBIs, and had just six extra-base hits in all. Trot, meanwhile, had a .404 OBP for the month, though he just had six extra-base hits, too, and Pena, of course, is now expected to be out a couple of months because of wrist surgery. The Sox are giving Varitek, who has had a strained muscle in his backside since spring, a chance to hit his way out of it, but common sense dictates that if he doesn't start to hit, they'll drop him down in the order. The way Youkilis is swinging the bat, he could end up in the five-hole, though I know the Sox like the flexibility the switch-hitting Varitek gives them in that slot.
Any chance of Arroyo coming back to the Sox next year? Also I would like to see the Sox trade Clement for the likes of a Jake Peavey from San Diego. Any comments?
Jerry Raines, Princeton, WV
A: Jerry, Bronson is not eligible for free agency until after the 2008 season. He entered this season with 3 years and 150 days of service time. Service time is credited at 172 days per "year.'' You are not eligible for free agency until you have six years of service time. Jake Peavy is one of the best pitchers in baseball. The Padres wouldn't trade him for Matt Clement. They wouldn't trade him for Roger Clemens.
I am quite certain you wrote in one of your recent columns where there was no chance the Braves assistant GM would take the Royals job. I've never read a "sportswriter" more out of touch and with less feel for the realities of the game. You should be covering the LPGA or high school tennis.
R. King, Calgary
A: King .King .King .Calgary .Calgary .It all sounds so familiar. I'll have to ask Calvin Schiraldi if he remembers the name. Here's what I wrote last Sunday about Dayton Moore, the Braves' assistant GM who last fall interviewed for the apparent Sox vacancy but quickly withdrew his name: "If Moore wanted no part of Boston, why on earth would he even consider K.C.? The guess here is he won't.'' A guess is a bit different than a declaration of "no chance." Moore is a Wichita native and received a five-year deal, an impressive contract for a first-time GM, so he was willing to take on the task of rebuilding the Royals, a daunting enterprise for anyone. What puzzles me is why you think the LPGA or high school tennis are any less deserving than baseball of quality coverage, given your high regard for my abilities.
Matt Clement's mental toughness has gone far south and he cannot help the team with the way he pitching. It's hopeless as our division rivals already beat him up so often. Every fan wants him out now. Do you think that the Red Sox finally give up on him this year if he continues to struggle and cut their losses?
Kevin Laliberte, Chelmsford
A: Kevin, It's interesting, and perhaps a testament to human nature, that many of us would consider Clement's All-Star worthy performance in the first half last season as a fluke, and his current struggles a permanent condition. That said, it is obvious that he is in about as deep a funk that a player can be, his confidence appears shot, and no doubt the team's confidence in him may have long since evaporated. It's a pretty safe conclusion that the Sox cannot keep running Clement out there if he's going to get his head handed to him each time, but their alternatives, especially right now, are pretty limited, other than to keep searching for a way to turn it around. This is a very unforgiving profession that these guys are engaged in, and right now Matt appears overwhelmed mentally and emotionally by his failure. Maybe in the end the only thing that will help him is to go elsewhere. The size of his contract only reminds people of the magnitude of his failures, but the Sox don't have the luxury, at least right now, of writing him off as a lost cause.
So much for Hanley Ramirez being a year or two away. I understand there's a risk in rushing guys to the majors but it seems the Sox are too conservative. Sometimes you just have to put them on the field and let them learn on the job. Freddy Sanchez is another example as he has turned into a fine player. He would still be in Pawtucket if he wasn't traded. I'm actually surprised they brought Youkilis up so soon although he was in the minors for 3 or 4 years. I know the minor league is their for a reason but if a kid is ready I see know reason in delaying the process. Let them play !
Junior Accordi, Revere
A: Junior, you make some good points, but the one thing I think you have not included in your analysis is that the circumstances are much different when you promote a rookie in a place like Florida or Pittsburgh, where the expectations are much lower, and the ability to withstand failure is much greater, than it is in a place like Boston, where a perennially contending team can only rarely afford the luxury of watching the struggles that inevitably occur for a rookie. Sanchez is a nice little player, but he's not a regular in Pittsburgh. Hanley has done great for the Marlins, but who would you rather have in a Sox uniform, Hanley Ramirez or Josh Beckett?