Boston Globe baseball writer Gordon Edes check in every Thursday or Friday with his take on the Red Sox. Ask your question now, and come back next week to see if it was answered.
Many fans and commentators are noting the divergent success of Matt Clement and Carl Pavano through the first half of the season. Pavano is being labeled a bust, Clement a probable All-Star. I would argue that a big reason for Matt Clement's success this year is due to his teaming with Jason Varitek. If the roles had been reversed and Pavano had chosen the Red Sox, I believe Pavano would be the pitcher having the All-Star year. I don't want to take anything away for Clement's year -- just point out the impact from working with a guy like Varitek. Varitek is worth every dime. I can't wait to see him work with some of the young guns coming up in the Sox farm system.
Michael, Denville, NJ
A: Michael, while there is no question that Jason Varitek made Clement's transition easier, and that Clement is the first to give the Sox credit, the reality is that Clement's performance this season is uncannily similar to his performance for the Cubs at this point last season. In fact, with the exception of his won-loss record, it was better. His ERA was lower (2.93 to 3.33), he had more strikeouts (108 to 82), the walks were only slightly more (35 to 32 in roughly the same number of innings, 104 1/3 to 102 2/3), and he'd given up just two more home runs (8 to 6). But he was barely a .500 pitcher (7-6), while with the Sox he is 9-1. Why? Run support. Last season, his run support on July 1 was 3.80 per nine innings, while with the Sox it is 7.45 per nine. Pavano' s struggles, meanwhile, can't be laid at the feet of Jorge Posada. Pavano's velocity has been down, and he has obviously struggled with making the adjustment to pitching in New York, just as Randy Johnson has. And remember, Pavano has had really just one good season in the big leagues. AL lineups are also more unforgiving than NL lineups. Clement, like Curt Schilling a year ago, doesn't appear to have been affected by going from NL to AL, but they're the exceptions.
Hey Gordon, wanted to see what your thoughts are on Wade Miller to
date and the future. He's coming off injury and has an ERA just shy of
5.00. His fastball seems to have little to no movement but he gets by on a
little guile and still has a pretty good breaking ball. Is there an
expectation that he is going to get better or are we looking at as good as
it is going to get?
Michael, Austin, Texas
A: Michael, I agree, we have not even seen a shadow of the pitcher Wade Miller was with the Astros, other than his extreme competitiveness and the good breaking ball. You'd like to think that he's going to get better as the arm gets stronger, but there remains the possibility that ultimately Miller may need a procedure done on his shoulder.
Hey Gordon, obviously the Sox need some bullpen help, though maybe
masked by the recent success. I know Danys Baez and Jose Mesa are on the
block. Are they possibilities for the Sox, who else is available, and who
would the Sox give up for a bullpenner?
A: Kurt, Mesa has put up some nice save numbers for the Pirates in a non-pressure setting, but in his last season in a pennant race, 2003 with the Phillies, he was a disaster; only 24 saves, a 6.52 ERA, and 71 hits allowed and 31 walks in just 58 2/3 innings. Most teams wrote him off as a closer after that season, and I think many contenders would have serious reservations that Mesa could do the job. Personally, I'd pass. Danys Baez is OK, but untested in a pennant race, and the D-Rays would no doubt ask for a team's best prospect. There are a lot of teams looking for pen help, and not many guys out there. Eddie Guardado has been terrific for the Mariners, but he's pitching with a torn labrum in his shoulder and probably would command a high price. The Jays may be willing to move Miguel Batista, but he, too, would cost somebody good prospects.
Do you think the Sox have a chance at getting A.J. Burnett? I know
the Marlins have been having preliminary discussions with the Orioles and
another anonymous American League team but is there a chance the Sox can
A: Joe, that's one to stay on top of. John Henry is a huge Burnett fan from their days together with the Marlins, and also has a very good relationship with Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria. But I'm not sure the teams would be a match. The Marlins' No. 1 need is a reliever, and the Sox certainly can't help in that area. The Orioles have Jorge Julio, and could also throw in a starter, if the deal expanded to include other players, which is what was on the table last week.
Put this to rest once and for all: Yes-No-Maybe-Who Knows-Unlikely as to
Roger Clemens coming to Boston? Yankees aren't going anywhere fast and as a
pre-emptive strike, would Theo make a move or even bother to inquire?
A: Mark. No. I'd be shocked if he does.
Gordon, going back to when Keith Foulke went to this pitching mechanics
place in Alabama, it seems to have worked for him, and I understand he did it
on his own time. Since it seems to have worked for him, why not have Alan Embree
and Matt Mantei go also, even if the Sox are footing the bill. Everything I've
seen or heard is that they are experiencing mechanical issues as well.
Joe, Woodway, Texas
A: On second thought, Joe, maybe it isn't working as well as some suggested it was. I'd have to think Foulke's mental game is a complete mess at the moment, wouldn't you? The Sox insist there are no physical issues.
With Mark Bellhorn sporting a sub-.225 batting average and only average
fielding skills, I'm more than mystified by Theo's apparent unwillingness to
unload him and move up Kevin Youkilis. Bill Mueller is more than capable of making
the move to second, Youkilis takes over at third, and the team saves a
bundle in the process. And, isn't it possible the Red Sox might get a
decent relief pitcher for Bellhorn? Isn't this a win-win proposition all
the way around?
Dan, Eugene, Oregon
A: Mueller is a third baseman, Dan, who has some experience at second but wants no part of making that a permanent move. He's playing very well at third for the Sox. The Sox value Bellhorn's defense and approach to the game (did you read Jason Varitek's extravagant praise of Bellhorn in Dan Shaughnessy's column on Monday) and believe he will hit. This lineup with Bellhorn leads the majors in runs scored, OBP and hitting. If it ain't broke ...
Do you think the Sox will try to trade for Ray Durham? He would seem
to be an upgrade over Bellhorn with his range at second and he doesn't
strikeout as much. Also, the Giants should be looking to move him as they
are falling out of the race.
Gary, San Francisco
A: Gary, the Sox have much bigger priorities. No. I don't see that happening.
Great work as usual. My question may be the reverse of what many
are thinking at this time of year. Personally, I'd like to see the Sox
move a person or two to a team in exchange for a big-time first base prospect. I'd
love to have a young first base in the system that I could root for. Are there any
possibilities out there? What about the scenario where we'd move a guy
like Bellhorn (who is driving me crazy lately) or Jay Payton to a team in
exchange for a young first baseman that we could develop?
A: Matt, there are some good young first basemen out there, including Lyle Overbay at the big-league level and Conor Jackson (in Arizona's system) on the minor-league level. But Jay Payton isn't going to bring back that kind of return in a deal, and neither would Bellhorn, who I believe won't be traded.
Hey Gordon. My question is of the more long-term variety. The only
Sox system product that is a regular is Trot Nixon (Not counting Curt
Schilling of course). They have a lot of promising prospects in Youkilis,
Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez etc. and by most accounts had another great draft. Do you see Theo taking a bit more of a "build from within" stance as opposed to
continuously trading prospects for veteran help?
Al, Penfield, NY
A: Al, there is absolutely no question that Theo, Ben Cherington, Jason McLeod (and David Chadd before him), and Craig Shipley (on the international front) have significantly upgraded the system, and while they will still use prospects to make a deal that will help the big club, they will hold onto their elite prospects, like Hanley Ramirez.