Boston Globe baseball writer Gordon Edes checks in every week (usually on Fridays) to answer your questions on the Red Sox. Ask yours now, and come back next week to see whether it was answered.
I want to ask if you think the Sox are overusing Hideki Okajima. He has pitched more innings than any other reliever (34 2/3 innings) and often 2-3 days consecutively. Often, he steps up in non-save situations, like the final game against the Giants. I know Terry Francona is trying to save Papelbon's arm, but it's absurd to do so at the cost of an invaluable setup man and one who is probably Papelbon's equal. Why throw Okajima out there for a third consecutive day when they can send in Kyle Synder or Mike Timlin, who hasn't been up all series? Aren't they concerned they might wear him out before October when we may need him most? Wouldn't it be nice to have a second closer for October to give Papelbon an off day here and there? Thanks!
Ray, It's definitely a situation that bears monitoring, especially since Okajima acknowledged being fatigued a couple of weeks ago. I think the Red Sox feel that Okajima is accustomed to throwing a lot and therefore can handle it, but they would love it if someone like Manny Delcarmen could step up and thrust himself into the eighth-inning mix, or perhaps Joel Pineiro, as he continues the transition from starter to reliever.
Hey Gordo, I was just perusing Sox players' stats. Something that caught my eye was that Jason Varitek is sitting at 1,001 hits. I dug up the game logs and then went over to the MLB package archive to see his 1,000th career hit. I'm kind of perplexed that no mention of it was made during the game. Is 1,000 hits not that much of a big deal anymore?
Chris H., Fremont, N.H.
Chris, I missed it. I suspect the Sox PR machine did not. Not to diminish the achievement, because 1,000 hits is notable, but typically, I don't think there's much of a fuss made over 1,000. Usually, the 2,000- or 3,000-hit threshold gets the hoo-hah.
Usually Manny wears his pants down over his shoes. Last night he was showing his Red Sox. Why? Did he lose a bet?
Lisa Lombardo, Worcester
Lisa, This may come as some surprise, but Manny neither consults me about his fashion choices, nor does he advise me when a change is in the offing. I suspect he wore his socks up on a whim, because that's what he felt like doing on that particular day.
Please explain to me why MLB teams don't seem to raise players' salaries -- like Dustin Pedroia at $380,000 -- before the contract is up. Why not take care of the player and sign him longer and for more money before other teams get to him? Seems like Dontrelle Willis played for almost the minimum for years. Why is this in MLB?
Rob, Richmond, Va.
The Red Sox have Pedroia under their control for six years. His first three years under contract, he has no leverage. The Sox are obligated to pay him the Major League minimum of $380,000 his first three seasons. The only other stipulation is that they cannot cut his salary by more than 20 percent in a given year through his first six seasons. But once Pedroia has recorded three years in the big leagues, he becomes eligible for salary arbitration, which dramatically improves his earning capacity. Players' salaries routinely double, triple, and often jump even more during the process, in which the team and a player both submit a salary figure and if they cannot reach an agreement, an arbitrator chooses between the two. After six seasons, a player is eligible to become a free agent. What often happens with younger players is that a team will sign them to a multiyear contract to buy them out of some of their arbitration-eligible years, preferring to have some cost certainty rather than risk having to make huge payments in arbitration should the market change dramatically. The Mets, for example, did that with both Jose Reyes and David Wright, the Red Sox did it with Nomar Garciaparra, and it wouldn't surprise me in the least if they elect to do so with Kevin Youkilis or Jonathan Papelbon.
In this age of big-time closers with big-time entrance theme songs, I gotta wonder why Paps doesn't have "Super Bon Bon" by Soul Coughing. If you don't know it, it was an alternative-rock hit in the early '90s with a great bass line and an intense build, and it seems like it was written for Papelbon to enter the game: "Move aside and let the man go through," building to "and it's on, super bon bon, super bon bon, super bon bon."
Ryan McDonough, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Ryan, you must have me confused with someone else, to think that I might be familiar with a song done by a group called "Soul Coughing.'' Among those much more musically literate than me in the press box, like Jeff Horrigan of the Herald or Sean McAdam of the Journal, I have a reputation for "uncoolness" that, sadly, I have earned. I'm not a total washout ... thanks to my family, I can tell you who Ben Folds is, for example, and I love music, but I'm more likely to listen to Brian Stokes Mitchell, Johnny Cash, Bruce, Neil Young, or Kristofferson before (ahem) Soul Coughing. But since you have introduced me to "Super Bon Bon," I will pass along your suggestion to Paps.
David Ortiz's ejection for tossing his helmet and bat reminded me of Ted Williams once striking out and tossing his bat about 40 or 50 feet straight up from the batter's box. Ted quickly said, "Is that gonna cost me?'' The umpire replied, "Not if doesn't come down, Ted." Can anyone at the Globe recall the umpire's name?
Frank, the collective memory of the Globe staff has shrunk significantly in recent years ... haven't you noticed the very young faces that are popping up with me on the NESN pregame show these days? I'm sure Will McDonough, if he were still with us, might have an answer for us, or Cliff Keane, who covered Ted. I had never heard the story, but I love it.
Love the Sox coverage in the Globe, read it every day online. Is it just me, or does Kevin Youkilis look like the actor John Malcovich? Youks is having a great year, and I love the work of Pedroia. Will Alex Cora be subbing more for Julio Lugo now? Cheers and beers ...
Brendan, Sydney, Australia
Brendan, have we ever seen Malcovich sporting chin hair like that thicket Youks has dangling from below his lip? I lean more toward Rasputin myself ... Youks certainly could pose for a team photo with the House of David. I could certainly see Cora splitting time with Lugo until he gets going.
I've never actually been to Boston, but was lucky enough to see the Red Sox at spring training in Fort Myers, Fla. in March 2005. Since then, I've been hooked and watch the Sox every chance I get live on the Internet here in Wales. The evening starts are not so easy to watch with the five-hour time difference. But the weekends are Red Sox time. Keep it up guys. Awesome season so far.
Adrian Jones, Swansea, Wales, UK
When a Welshman converts, Sox Nation sends out a collective high-five. Those midnight starts during the week have to be killer, Adrian, and I won't even ask you about West Coast night games. But do come to Boston one day to experience what this business is all about, first-hand.
Gordon, Your answer about whether Tito is chewing again -- "I know he's very sensitive to the issue, and what message it conveys, and is making a big effort to quit, but you see what you see" -- is worthy of the presidential campaign trail. Could you elaborate, please?
JK, West Allis, Wis.
JK, really, is it necessary to say more? Is it somehow a dereliction of duty if I don't call out Tito? The issue is not a trivial one for him or his family, and he is struggling to deal with an addictive habit that has extracted a terrible toll on other users. If he's not inclined to talk about it right now, I can respect that. In the meantime, as I said before, you see what you see.
Gordon, Time for Brandon Moss to make an appearance at Fenway, don't you think?
Doug Berlin, Jamestown, N.Y.
Not so fast, Doug. I know Mr. Gammons has raised that possibility, but I'm not sure that's on the Sox radar right now. I've been closely monitoring Jacoby Ellsbury's progress in Pawtucket, but from what I'm hearing, the Sox will bring him up only when they have an expectation that he will thrive, and not just survive. Could Moss get a call if there's an injury? Sure that's a possibility, but beyond that scenario, I don't see that happening before September, though he's having a nice season in Pawtucket.
Gordon: I'm among the sizable contingent of NorCal RSN (Plymouth County native) who turn the Oakland Mausoleum (it's got to be the worst stadium in baseball, no?) into Fenway West. Hey, Julio Lugo is killing us. Not just with his "black hole" offensive non-production (and it's offensive), but also defensively. Do you think Mike Lowell's uncharacteristic errors might be due to less comfort playing with Lugo? Was he more relaxed with Alex Gonzalez? Lowell's a solid, stand-up guy -- I'd offer him a contract extension in a heartbeat -- and won't point fingers. But what role does the change at shortstop play in Lowell's defense?
Paul Dorn, Sacramento, Calif.
Paul, can't argue with your rating of the Mausoleum ... depressing. Interesting theory on Lowell's errors, but I suspect Mike would claim complete ownership of his errors. I'm sure he had a great comfort level with Gonzalez -- they played together for years -- but I can't think of instances where Lowell's miscues were any way related to what Lugo was doing on a given play.
Is there any way we can convince Tito to move J.D. Drew to the two spot and move Youk to the five spot? I'm really tired of seeing innings that look like this: Lugo/Coco Crisp grounds out. Youkilis singles. David Ortiz walks. Manny Ramirez walks. J.D. Drew grounds into a double play. Isn't he supposed to be protection for Manny? Manny's not seeing anything to hit because everyone knows the guy behind him isn't going to get it done. At least if he's hitting second, his groundouts/popouts won't affect our big hitters, and if he does decide to come back and start hitting then Ortiz will have someone to drive in. I don't know about you, but I'm really frustrated with watching all of our offense get wasted every night. Someone please help!
Chuck, I think Tito got the message, as he adopted a variation of your lineup for precisely the reasons you outline. Drew had some big games in the leadoff spot, and if Youkilis can produce in the No. 5 hole, the Sox should have a pretty balanced lineup.