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.
Please, please, please tell Theo not to trade one of our top prospects for stop-gap help. Do you hear any rumblings that this is the way management is thinking? Giving up Matt Murton was bad, and losing Jon Papelbon, Brandon Moss, or Anibal Sanchez would be a huge mistake. Your thoughts, please?
Joe, Los Angeles
A: Joe, Let's look at your premise: Do you feel that giving up Matt Murton, as part of the price for acquiring Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz, wasn't worth it? I respectfully disagree. The Sox do not win the World Series without making that deal, and while you hate to give up a good prospect, that's often the price of doing business. One of the most well-know examples of a similar transaction was when the Tigers acquired Doyle Alexander from the Braves in 1987. Alexander went 9-0 and helped the Tigers win the division title. The Braves got John Smoltz. Alexander was 36 years old at the time, pitched just two more years, and pitched well only one more year. Was that deal, then, not a good one for the Tigers? I would say it's pretty defensible. You don't know how many chances you're going to get to win in this game.
I just can't understand why there is such concern over Kevin Millar's feelings if he has to platoon with John Olerud. The media keeps talking about how the Sox have to be careful in how they handle this so to not alienate Millar. Are you kidding me? He's a professional baseball player and this is a business. The bottom line is he is not producing. I don't care how valuable people think he is in the clubhouse or as a leader. Do you really think other players are going to mope around and sulk if Millar is not in the lineup? It's a business and this guy has been given ample time to turn it around. How long is enough to wait for this guy?
A: Ron, I think you're dead on in your analysis, at least in this respect: Francona is not doing this out of concern that he will hurt Millar's feelings, or that other guys in the clubhouse will be upset if Millar gets benched. Francona is sticking with Millar because of his track record; he thinks that Millar has proven that he will hit. Should Francona have given up on Manny when his average dipped to around .230, or when Renteria was scuffling? Should the Mariners bench Adrian Beltre because he's hitting in the .230s. Francona is playing Millar because he believes Millar gives the team a chance to win, period. If Millar doesn't break out of his slump, Olerud will get the majority of playing time, and who knows, maybe Roberto Petagine gets a call, too, simple as that. Millar understands the situation. He knows no one will play him simply because he's a "good guy.'' But there are a host of guys who haven't hit the first two months of the season who wind up coming pretty close to their career numbers, year after year.
What is the likelihood of a Roger Clemens return to Boston? I know that it's early but its really getting talked about on message boards! What do you think?
A: Extremely unlikely, Kevin. He has implied he'd only go back to the Yankees, Astros owner Drayton MacLane has said he isn't going anywhere, and the latest rumor is Roger letting it be known he'd be receptive to a deal to the in-state Rangers, who have a much better chance of winning than the Astros do.
This weekend in New York, we saw Edgar Renteria hit a grand slam home run and a sacrifice bunt in the same game. This seems like it would be a pretty rare combination for a Red Sox player, given the Sox' reluctance to bunt. Has it happened before?
Lenox, Issaquah, Wash.
A: Lenox, sorry, man, but I think there are limits to what we can research. I put it to our stat man, the Maniacal One, but not sure if he can deliver.
Dale Sveum has no judgment and has been hurting the team for two years. Why do the Sox keep him? Can Epstein and Francona (no bright light himself) not see what every fan knows?
Alan, Sycamore, Ill.
A: Alan, the third-base coach gets noticed only when a runner gets tossed out. Has Sveum made mistakes? Sure. He would be the first to admit it, as on the Ortiz infield hit in which he tried to score Damon from second. But Francona and Theo, along with the players, swear that Sveum brings a lot more to the table than simply waving runners home, in terms of defensive positioning, batting tips, etc. He is considered one of the hardest workers in uniform.
With regards to Bronson Arroyo, are his last two outings a funk or a forecast? I certainly hope he is just in a short term funk but I have my doubts. It seems like hitters are now seeing him for the 3rd or 4th time and they are making adjustments. They seem to be laying off his slider more and more which is forcing him to throw the ball over the plate. This has me concerned. Do you agree or do you see this as nothing more than a temporary issue?
KC, New Jersey
A: KC, I suspect it's a temporary issue, but he's got to re-establish his slider on the outside corner. Hitters have to know he can throw it for a strike; when they do, then they tend to chase those sliders he throws just off the plate, instead of laying off of them. I'm guessing it's a temporary glitch.
I just read your article "A Rough Draft of Sox' Plans" regarding the upcoming draft. I saw where Ben Cherington, who had responsibility for the Sox' minor league system and player development, left the Sox during the offseason and I got the impression there was a bit of acrimony between he and Theo. Can you comment on what you know what to the dissolution of that relationship, and more importantly what it means to the future of the organization? I believe solid player development is the foundation Theo is trying to build for the organization to ensure a bright future. Is the loss of Cherington a blow to the organization? Could you evaluate the job the Sox are doing with respect to player development relative to some of the other organizations that have strong minor league systems like Cleveland, Florida, Atlanta, and Toronto? Are the Sox in good shape for the future with players like Hanley Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia, Chris Durbin, Abe Alvarez, and some of their other prospects, or do they need to do a better job? I didn't mind Theo trading Nomar, but I'm still upset about him including their best outfield prospect Matt Murton in the same deal.
A: John, I think you mixed up some of the Sox personnel. Ben Cherington is alive and well and running the Sox farm system. The guy who left is David Chadd, whom the Sox had hired on John Henry's recommendation from the Marlins. Chadd is much more receptive to drafting high school players than the Sox are; the parting of the ways represented that philosophical difference. I think the Sox are doing an excellent job of re-seeding their farm system, and have done more than just paying lip service to the need to do so.
Will the Sox try to move Manny Ramirez before he becomes a 10/5 player? Many fans do not want this to happen, but economically, it only makes sense. What are you hearing?
Lloyd, New Brunswick, Canada
A: That's an intriguing point you make. Manny becomes a 10-5 player (at least 10 years in the league, five years with the same team) at the end of this season, meaning the Sox would have to have his permission to trade him. It's hard to imagine that they would trade him in the middle of this season -- where's the market for a guy with his contract? It's well-known, of course, that they put him on waivers after the '03 season and talked about a prospective trade with the Mets last winter. But the Mets now have payroll, the Yankees have no opening, and while the Cubs could use a bat with Sammy gone and Nomar out, I can't imagine them spending that kind of dough. So, where can they move him to, and get back what you'd have to get back in a midseason deal that made any sense?
Hi Gordie, I'm beginning to think that those who edit your e-mails don't like us oldtime retirees who are critical of Francona, Wallace, Sveum etc. Certainly Sveum's excuse about sending Bellhorn was pure garbage. Bellhorn failed to go from first to third on a single to right, why would he be able to go from second to home on a shot to left field where Womack had the play in front of him and it was easy for the catcher to block the plate? Also is anyone wondering why so many of the pitchers seem unprepared ?? Wade Miller said he did not have a good warmup!! Arroyo was not sharp until the 3rd. Embree is wild on repetitive outings. Foulke can't get anyone out; has anyone in Red Sox management questioned Manny's eyesight?? It may not be his swing. Any possibility that Theo will replace some of the "management" in spite of your proposing a raise for Francona? After all, Terry picked these duds.
Patrick, Palmyra, Va.
A: Patrick, the good thing about you long-time fans is that you're not afraid to speak your mind, and as I've often told my own folks, they've lived long enough to say what they feel. I don't share many of those opinions, as you probably can tell from what I write in the paper. When Miller says he didn't have a good warmup, that doesn't mean he was ill prepared, it means he didn't feel like he was throwing well in the bullpen as he warmed up. That happens a lot to a pitcher; he'll have a lousy warmup, then pitch great in the game. The opposite happens, too. Sveum thought that because Womack had limited experience as a left fielder (he was a second baseman), it was a gamble worth taking. It didn't work out that way. Are the struggles of the other players you mentioned management's fault? I don't think so. And no, I don't think anyone has any questions regarding Manny's eyesight.
Hey Mr. Edes, the Sox bullpen has a big flaw in Allan Embree, his velocity has decreased 3-4 mphs he went from 92-96 mph last year to be consistently at 88-91 mph this year. Do you see a change on the horizon, like acquiring another reliever like Jeremy Affeldt of the Royals? He is a good reliever and is his contract runs through 2007 but he has 2 more years of arbitration. One more question, I see a big hole at 1b and 2b. With first base the Sox have solution but at second base there is no solution, so can you see the Sox acquiring Ronnie Belliard, Placido Polanco or maybe even Kaz Matsui, who according to the papers in New York is available in trade?
A: Billy, do you want Matsui, the way he's playing and for what he'd cost you? Affeldt is a young guy with a great upside; yes, he's arbitration eligible, but I think he's the kind of guy the Royals hold onto. He's only 25, he's still relatively cheap ($950,000) this season, so I can't see him being available. Second base? I think the Sox are content to go with what they have, with Dustin Pedroia waiting in the wings.
Just read you last column and read a question regarding interleague play. Maybe I am only being petty, however I dislike ILP for the reason that it favors National League teams over American League teams. When we play in a National League park, our pitcher has to hit and we lose the DH. However, when we are at Fenway, the NL team can have a DH. This seems completely onesided to me as we actually get weaker in an NL park and the NL team plays "even" (as they are used to) and in the AL park, they actually put a stronger lineup against us with an "extra" hitter. Your thoughts?
Mike, West Warwick, RI
A: No, Mike, you're echoing the feelings of a lot of AL managers, including Terry Francona, who are greatly frustrated at not being able to use their normal lineup in interleague play, or in the World Series, for that matter. Someday, the leagues are going to have to adopt a uniform policy. My guess, because of the number of jobs involved, the NL will grudgingly accept the DH.
Is something wrong with Bellhorn's eyes? He has to "squint", and continuously blink his eyes before a pitch. He can't be seeing the ball too good. Is Francona aware of this?
Joe, Rochester, NY
A: Joe, No problems that I'm aware of regarding Bellhorn's eyesight. You sure he's not just squinting in disbelief when he swings and misses?
Gordon, I'd like to resurrect an old prospect for the Sox pitching staff: Jose Contreras. Although Theo lost him to the Yankees a couple of years ago and since then he's not looked too stellar, might he still be the next Pedro Martinez? I thought there were times in some of his stints against the Sox where he shut us down. Could he just need better tutelage to emerge as one of the top talents in the game? Should Theo go after him? Or should I let a sleeping dog lie?
A: Lena, the White Sox aren't going to move Contreras; he's become a valuable part of their rotation. Still maddeningly inconsistent, though.