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.
Here we come Chicago! I'm heading to Chicago on Friday for the Sox'
weekend series with the Cubs. Any tips on where I can go in Wrigleyville to
find Sox fans? And I don't have tickets to any weekend games, do you know
if the Cubbies sell out, or do you think seats will be available? Are those
seats on the rooftops across the street still there?
A: Sox fans will be everywhere this weekend, Aiden. My charity event at John Barleycorn's, a block from the ballpark, is a sellout -- and I thank in advance those of you who are coming for your generosity -- but the downstairs part of the pub will be open, and I'm sure there will be Sox fans around, all over the neighborhood. There are literally dozens of places to choose from. Check out the free Blues Festival in Grant Park downtown, as well as Navy Pier. You'll see your brothers and sisters in Sox.
Hey Gordon, any inside knowledge on any of the guys the Sox drafted? It sounds like they got some bargains, particularly with their first two picks, a speedy center fielder and a fireballing closer.
A: The players you are referring to, Jacoby Ellsbury, the outfielder from Oregon State, and Craig Hansen, the closer from St. John's, are obviously both players I haven't seen myself, Frank. But I think the Sox are excited because Hansen is already a pretty polished guy who has topped out at 97 miles an hour, according to Baseball America, and could come quickly to the big leagues, much like Huston Street, who was in college last year and pitching for the A's this season. Ellsbury can run, is outstanding defensively and on the basepaths, and as you've probably read, reminds folks of Johnny Damon. But the baseball draft is often a crapshoot, so let's see what happens.
This Red Sox bullpen is horrendous! What can they do to right the ship here? Has there been talk of reshuffling roles? How about brining in a fresh arm? What do you think the Sox will do about this? Maybe get a reliever in a trade?
A: Pam, as you've probably noticed, the Sox often seem to pick up relievers around the trading deadline -- BK Kim (that was a late-May deal), Greg Swindell (going back further), Mike Myers, Alan Embree, Rod Beck et al. I anticipate they will do the same this year, although one of the biggest names, Ugie Urbina, is off the market now, having gone to the Phillies. A lot of teams are looking for similar help, including the Yankees, since Paul Quantrill has been awful and Mike Stanton very erratic. Keith Foulke of course is a key. If he can get straightened out, that could have a ripple effect on the whole pen.
I try to follow the recent draft picks of this new regime and I was interested in getting your opinion about David Murphy. He was a first round pick who they really liked but his development has been less than spectacular so far. Do you see a future with this guy?
KC, New Jersey
A: KC, things are obviously not going David Murphy's way right now, as he struggles to make the adjustments in Double-A. He's batting .220, and ominously has three times as many strikeouts (41) as walks (14). Fellow outfielders Jeremy West and Brandon Moss clearly have made the necessary adjustments as they've stepped up in classifications; Murphy to date has not. He didn't tear it up last season, either, though he had injury issues, and the Sox have said little about him in recent months, so the expectations are clearly not there at this point. Give it a little time, see if he adjusts, but right now his future is less than bright.
When and why the uniform number change for Wells?
Dennis, Kansas City, Mo.
A: Renteria wanted his old No. 3 back. Wells, for a price, gave it to him. Wells won't reveal what it cost, because he said, he didn't want the IRS on his back. We think he was joking.
As July 31 approaches, I am going to take the assumption that the 1B combo of Kevin Millar & John Olerud will produce. If they don't,we'll need a 1B replacement via trade. Our No. 1 need continues to be bullpen help as Matt Mantei and Alan Embree struggle. We need another setup guy to unburden Mike Timlin. Do you think we could add a 2B and use Mark Bellhorn as a utility guy? I like Mark, but we certainly could upgrade at 2B. If so what 2Bs that could help us are out there? Where else can we improve via trade without a blockbuster? I don't see to many other options. Bill Mueller is starting to hit and please no to Jason Jennings as he leads the NL in walks.
JK, Syracuse, NY
A: JK, I don't think the Sox are going to make a deal for a second baseman. The Sox accept the whiffs if Bellhorn is getting on base, and after a very rough start, the OBP is climbing, to .378 in May and .394 so far this month. That's more than acceptable. The big disparity is in Bellhorn's performance at home and on the road. He's hitting .295 on the road, but just .193 at home, which suggests he's putting a ton of pressure on himself at the Fens.
Hey Gordon ... you and others have mentioned often in defense of Dale Sveum things like, "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." I won't argue that, but if that's the case hire him as an assistant coach. Without even bringing up the argument of whether he is or is not a good 3rd base coach, why not make the decision based on his results, and if he is better served in another role, then let him do that.
Chris, New York
A: You make a valid point, but I think the basic position of the organization is that the third-base coach will make the occasional mistake, and when he does the whole world sees it, but by and large they believe his hits far outweigh his misses. The fans, and media, remember the screwups; Francona's contention is that Sveum overall is doing a good job. If there is a whopper or two down the stretch, Sveum will no doubt be vulnerable.
Hello Gordon, A couple questions.... Does it seem as though our big bats have not been listening to Papa Jack? Manny Ramirez, Millar, Mueller? Now that they have won the title, are they too big to take coaching? Stances and hands seem to have gone back to the
problem mechanics of spring training. Also, is there anything going on behind scenes to bring Gabe Kapler back from Japan?
A: John, no, it's not about their unwillingness to accept coaching, though Papa Jack raised a caution flag this week when he admonished new staff member Mike Barnett, who had been fired by the Blue Jays as hitting coach, to make sure they're on the same page. The Kapler situation bears watching. Last week he was placed on the inactive list, which suggests to me that the next step is for Kapler, hitting just .153 in Japan, to be released. Will the Sox sign him? Good question. If they thought he could help, they could possibly use Jay Payton as a chip to address another need, like a reliever. But that's pure speculation at the moment.
Roberto Petagine now has 8 homers and 21 RBI in 77 at bats in Pawtucket. His OPS is 1.095. Granted it's against Triple-A pitching, but if he could put up these numbers at the MLB level, he would be our BEST hitter. How long can you keep a good man down?
P.S. You think Billy Beane might be interested?
Mike, Bethel, Conn.
A: The better question, Mike, is how long will Petagine wait on the Sox? His contract allows him to go to another club if he thinks he has a better chance of landing a big-league job there. Obviously, the Sox preferred bringing Olerud aboard, and it's also clear that other clubs are not knocking Petagine's door down to get him. There's a reason a guy spends his career in minor leagues. Some guys thrive at Triple-A, but that next step kills 'em.
I have a feeling that the Sox will see some big changes before the trading deadline in July -- maybe nothing of a Nomar-size trade, but something similar. Last year, many pointed to Nomar's reluctance to re-sign with the Sox as a reason for his trade. Couldn't the same be said of Johnny Damon? With his contract up, Johnny will definitely be looking for
more money than the Sox will be willing to offer. With Adam Stern on his way up from Triple-A, Jay Payton waiting by, and Gabe Kapler set to return to the US next season, what are the chances of Theo moving Johnny by the deadline?
A: Zero. Damon is a huge part of this club, and unlike Nomar last season, is making a significant contribution. This club goes nowhere without Johnny this season. The contract issues will be resolved after the season. Besides, who knows if Adam Stern can play?
What does Kevin Millar talk about to the opposing team's runners when they are on first base? They're always joking about something, or he always seems to have something witty to say.
A: Dave, I'm not privy to their conversations, but knowing Kevin, I'm sure he's always cracking wise, while also asking about family, mutual friends, etc.