The kids are all right
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.
Theo Epstein recently quoted in the "Extra Bases" blog of the Boston Globe saying that he would be exploring starting pitching help internally and externally. We all know who the internal guys are, but who realistically will the Sox target externally and try to get to help this team out?
Did you think that the Sox gave up on David Riske too quickly? He didn't pitch all that bad. Riske actually had only a couple of bad games. Do you think the Sox panicked and just traded him to shake up the bullpen, or do you think the Sox traded him because they think he has already reached his potential? I do know that the Cleveland Indians didn't even use him last September in the pennant race, cause he was a disaster in pressure situations. Maybe the Sox are thinking the same way and believe he'll falter in September. Maybe Craig Hansen will be the key righthanded arm in the pen.
Javier Lopez, who was acquired for Riske, was an interesting move. Lopez is a lefty specialist, but did the team really have to get him? After all you have Craig Breslow in Pawtucket, and he's having a heck of a season. His 2.29 ERA jumps right out at you, and he strikes out more then a batter an inning. In his 35 1/3 innings, Breslow has allowed only 24 hits.
Finally do you see David Murphy, and maybe Hee-Seop Choi with the Sox before the end of the year?
Mike A., Lawrence
A: Mike, you certainly touched all bases with your question. Let's start with Riske. He was of limited value to the Sox. I don't think they were terribly impressed by what they saw while he was here, they needed a situational lefty, which they got in Lopez when they traded Riske to the White Sox, and they have Delcarmen and now Hansen to fill the middle relief role. I'm partial to Breslow -- he's a fascinating story of a guy who was released in A ball and still made it to the majors -- but evidently the Sox have reservations about his stuff, despite his success at Pawtucket. Murphy and Hee-Seop are obvious candidates for September callups, but barring injuries, I can't see them coming before then, and Murphy may well become a bargaining chip in trade talks.
This question is based on many tangibles but if Hansen comes up and dominates in relieving/setup soon, do you see the Sox moving Papelbon into the rotation around the All-Star break? I know Papelbon is having an unbelievable year as a closer, but the rotation is severely questionable after Schilling. I think any Sox fan would love to see a rotation of Schilling, Beckett, Papelbon and Lester rolling into the postseason.
A: Zack, I understand your thinking, and believe me, at one point it probably was shared by the Sox braintrust. But Papelbon has been spectacular as closer; I don't see how you can possibly tamper with that now.
Devastating news about Chris Snow, your budding protégé, and his defection to Minny. How do you think the organization (that partly owns the Red Sox) is going to deal with this? Will they call someone up from the minors (regional newspapers), look outside the organization for help, or put more of the workload on the grisly veterans (you) and the rookies (Fluto Shinzawa, etc.)? Clearly the Globe and Boston.com will have to rely on Edes much more than he's used to at this stage of his career. Do you think he's up to the task?
Mark Griffin, Somerville
A: Mark, please tell me that when you referred to me as a "grisly" veteran, you meant "grizzly" (grayish, flecked with gray) as opposed to "grisly" (inspiring repugnance, gruesome). A guy could get a complex. The Globe has a rich tradition of baseball writing, so I imagine they'll find a way to survive Snow's defection to the NHL. I guess it's a fair question, at my advanced age, whether I've lost my fastball. We'll soon find out. If that turns out to be the case, I'll be asking Snow for a job as stickboy. In the meantime, keep an eye out for the next phenom.
What is your opinion of the pitching staff, outside of Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett, Tim Wakefield, Jonathan Papelbon and Mike Timlin? IMO, they have some serious issues and trading for middle relief is not necessary as those types of pitchers all stink around the league. What is your opinion in putting your eggs with the young guys like Craig Hansen, Manny Delcarmen and Jermaine Van Buren? I know they are young, but I don't think you can do worse than what Keith Foulke, David Riske, Rudy Seanez and Julian Tavarez have done. And as for experience down in the 'pen, you have Timlin to teach them and who knows if Timlin will be here next year, so you might as well have him teach them the rest of the year so they are ready next year if not this year. If you are Terry Francona, you have got to have NO faith in your middle relievers.
Jim Boyle, Imperial, Pa.
A: Jim, it appears you've gotten your wish. Terry Francona made it clear this week, when the Sox recalled Craig Hansen for a second time, that the kids (Hansen and Delcarmen) are going to be called upon in some crunch-time situations. With Foulke on the shelf, Theo also went out and got a situational lefty in Javier Lopez. Tavarez's performance this season has been shocking; he has been scored upon in 16 of his 29 appearances, including five in a row until he pitched a scoreless inning against the Nats on Tuesday. Seanez hasn't been quite as, um, grisly, although 29 hits -- including 5 home runs -- and 13 walks in 29 innings is hardly what the Sox expected. I wouldn't be surprised if the Sox tried to move Tavarez before the trading deadline.
What's the deal with Boomer? Is he done or not? Watching him roll around that mound after getting hit was pathetic. I don't like seeing anybody hurt but he's 350 lbs for heaven sake. I hate not having a consistent lefty in the rotation but either he is going to help this team or the Sox should cut their ties.
Lenny Ciaccerrelli, Fall River
A: Lenny, your compassion for Wells knows no bounds, although it's impossible to dispute that Wells is in the XXXL range, size-wise. Info on Wells is pretty scarce right now; he's back in San Diego, presumably rehabbing, but whether he can summon one more attempt at getting back into pitching shape remains to be seen. The Sox are committed to the rookie, Jon Lester. Despite his obvious talent, however, we should be prepared for some growing pains. The terrific Braves left-hander, Steve Avery, was 3-11 as a rookie in 1990, then won 18 games the following year.
I just read Eric Wilbur's piece on Matt Clement in which he mentions Pedro's demand for a fourth year on his new contract. We all know the Red Sox said no and of course we could argue all year whether they were right to do so or not. I think they were both right and wrong -- wrong because I think Pedro will still be effective come that fourth year, right because in some ways he was a cross to bear for the Red Sox, what with the media battles, the histrionics with management, the late arrivals at camp and the do-you-take-him-out-in-the-seventh-or-not debates. What I find disappointing is that the Sox didn't seem to see that most of the truly great pitchers don't tend to collapse in their later years as Theo seemed to think Pedro would. Look at current evidence -- Smoltz, Glavine, Maddux, Mussina, Pedro, Curt, even Kenny Rogers... Look at the past too -- how long did Nolan Ryan pitch for? OK, so Randy Johnson isn't doing so great in New York (what a shame that is), but I think it's too early to say it's over for him. I have obviously done no statistical or even age research here but it just seems to me the greats generally stay great for a very, very long time (given serious injury exceptions obviously). What do you think? Oh, and I think Pedro disproved the "small frame" theory a few years ago, don't you?
James Young, Brazil
A: James, I don't think Theo entertains a bias against older pitchers -- after all, he's made a significant investment in Curt Schilling, Tim Wakefield and David Wells. And while Pedro is high maintenance, I don't think that was a major factor in deciding not to match the Mets' offer for him. I think the Sox made their call based on their version of actuarial tables, that because of Pedro's previous shoulder issues, his performance would not justify the financial commitment the Sox would be obliged to make to him. So far, of course, Pedro has remained an elite pitcher, and if he has another great year next season, then you can certainly argue that overpaying him for a fourth year might have been worth it. Better, say, than paying millions on Edgar Renteria's contract.
Hey Gordon, I'm really getting a laugh at the Mirabelli situation that unfolded this year. There was so much hype on him returning with the police escort and how the Sox would be so much better off without Josh Bard. So in reflection, Doug is now hitting .149 and has eight passed balls, the very situation he was brought back to take care of. It's been said that the Sox were not going to wait for Bard to learn Wakefield, but it really humors me to look back at how they thought Doug would be a savior. I'm sure the Sox could have used the money for the police escort to donate to the Jimmy Fund and had Doug get a taxi there. No point in looking back, but I remember a previous question talking about the hype of the Yankees doing unnecessary curtain calls, but this is a case of the Sox organization and fans going overboard for a lackluster performing player. Your thoughts?
Will Everett, Quincy
A: Hey, Will, you have to admit, the Sox could not possibly have continued running Bard out there, not after 10 passed balls in 4 games. And for one night, that was a great story, Mirabelli arriving at game time, with the police escort, and the Sox winning big against the Yankees. It just shows how unpredictable baseball can be. I doubt you could find anyone who would have predicted that Bard, who barely played in Cleveland before coming to Boston, would be hitting .350 with 5 home runs for the Padres. At the same time, there was no reason to think that Mirabelli would be struggling at the plate as much as he has -- 7 hits in 47 at-bats-or that he already would have more passed balls (8) than all of last season (6). But I also think you can't overlook how well Wakefield is pitching, and that is at least in part due to the confidence he has in Mirabelli. Passed balls are going to happen with anyone catching a knuckleballer; with Bard, however, they threatened to become an epidemic. Do the Sox need more from Mirabelli at the dish? Of course.
I am a big supporter of Mr. Theo Epstein. He has done a fantastic job of building up the farm system while staying competitive for the last three years. The only two constructive criticisms I would offer are:
1. Unless his name is Albert Pujols, any person affiliated with the St. Louis organization is completely off limits to become a Red Sox player (see Edgar Renteria and Julian Tavarez). With the size and scope of the Red Sox Nation, we should be able to find someone to block all calls from Yawkey Way to the Greater St. Louis area.
2. Submarine pitchers do not work. Yes, I understand that it changes the eye level of the hitter, but major league hitters have the ability to take a few pitches, pickup the release point of a submarine pitcher, and drive an 85 MPH fastball out of any ball park.
Thomas Butch, Del Mar, Calif.
A: Thomas, I laughed when I read your comment on St. Louis. Talk about let the buyer beware, although if Walt Jocketty wanted to send Chris Carpenter back to New England, I'm sure Theo wouldn't mind. As for submariners, obviously deception is a big part of their game, and there have been enough good submariners -- Dan Quisenberry, Gene Garber, Mike Myers to name a few -- to suggest that it might not be quite as easy as you make it sound.