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.
Count me as one who thinks it great to have "Grizzled Gordon" back on the regular game-writer beat for the Sox. You need those steady vets down the stretch of a pennant race. Speaking of steady vets, any thoughts on 'Tek's alarming dropoff in batting this year? Every time he shows signs of pulling out, he seems to drop back into a funk again. He's had a ton of bad swings and ugly strikeouts this year.
Chris Veronda, Fairport, NY
Chris, Thanks for your expression of confidence in the "old-timer'' -- I guess I'm a little like Clemens joining the 'Stros in midseason, the Globe figures I've got enough in the tank to cover the beat for the next three months (unlike the Rocket and his arm, I don't have to ice my head after every game, although some of you might debate that point).
Anyway, the Varitek question is a good one. I thought Jason's injury issue, most significantly the strained gluteus, impacted his performance over the first couple of months, but indeed, it did seem he was coming out of it in June. But in 10 games since June 20, entering play Wednesday night with the D-Rays, Jason is just 5 for his last 36, a .139 average, with 14 K's, including that dreadful 4-K night against Scott Kazmir. The concern, of course, is that Jason's offensive dropoff usually comes in the last month or so of the season; last season he hit just .188 in September/October, and his career average in that span is .236. It would be easy to point to his age and accumulated wear and tear, but Jason at 34 has kept himself in terrific shape. It could be that being slotted in the 5-hole behind Papi caused him to do things he wouldn't ordinarily do (he's batting .186 in the 5-hole, .292 in the 6-hole); I wonder if his involvement in the WBC might be a factor. I know it sounds like I'm grasping at straws; with Jason, you never know if he's hiding a physical reason. It could also be that he's just going through one of those tough stretches every hitter goes through, even the best ones (Vladi Guerrero, for example, has been in a terrible slump), and at the end of the day, his numbers will reflect his career performance. I'm certainly not ready to call him cooked, not by a long shot.
Hey Gordon, how many players does the manager of the All-Star team actually pick? I know the reserves and pitchers are voted on by the players, managers and coaches but I'm not clear on what the exact break down is. It seems the managers only really pick a couple players and maybe are not to be blamed for the snubs each year.
Andy Delaney, Quincy
Andy, OK, here's how the All-Star teams were chosen. Teams have 32-man rosters. The starting eight position players were elected by the fans. Eight additional position players (one at each position) were elected on what was called the player ballot, with votes being cast by the players, managers and coaches. Eight pitchers -- five starters and three relievers -- were also selected by voting on the player ballot. One player is picked out of five nominees on the "Final Vote" balloting of fans who cast their votes online. That's how Johnny Damon and Jason Varitek were picked in back to back years in 2002 and 2003.
Finally, that leaves seven players to be picked by the All-Star manager, with input from MLB officials. Ozzie Guillen took 1B Paul Konerko of the White Sox, OF Grady Sizemore of the Indians, SS Miggy Tejada of the Orioles, pitcher Mark Buehrle of the White Sox, pitcher Bobby Jenks of the White Sox, pitcher Mark Redman of the Royals and pitcher Barry Zito of the A's. Guillen is obligated to make sure every team in the league is represented, which accounts for Redman and Zito being on the team. In picking three of his own guys, Guillen is doing what many of his predecessors have done in the past (the Yankees had seven guys on the team in 2004). I think what annoyed some folks around the AL is that Guillen called very few of his managing peers for their input.
Could you please list the active major leaguers who you think will ultimately end up in the Hall of Fame?
Val Tino, Boca Chica, Dominican Republic
Val, nice to hear from beautiful Boca Chica .. Here's my list:
Certain to go to Cooperstown -- Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Tom Glavine, Pedro Martinez, Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, John Smoltz.
On the bubble -- Curt Schilling, Mike Mussina, Billy Wagner.
If he keeps this up -- Johan Santana.
Certain to go to Cooperstown -- Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Mike Piazza, Derek Jeter, Manny Ramirez, Mike Piazza, Pudge Rodriguez, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel.
On the bubble -- Chipper Jones, Jeff Kent, Todd Helton, Nomar Garciaparra, Carlos Delgado, Ichiro Suzuki, Frank Thomas.
If he keeps this up -- Vladi Guerrero, David Ortiz, Albert Pujols.
I'm 32 years old. I've lived in NJ all my life, but because of 2 parents born and raised in the Boston area, I've been actively routing for the Sox for almost 3 decades. That said, my question is this: What were the Minnesota Twins thinking on Dec. 16, 2002? That's the day they released a 27-year-old whose numbers the previous 3 seasons improved like this:
2000: .282; 10 HR; 63 RBI in 130 games.
2001: .234; 18 HR; 48 RBI in just 89 games.
2002: .272; 20 HR; 75 RBI in 125 games.
Obviously, I'm referring to Big Papi. (By the way is he really only 230 pounds? I mean I'm 215 pounds and he looks like two of me.)
He seemed to be on track to continue to evolve into his prime. Because they simply released him, they got nothing for him. So what do you suppose led to the chain of events where they let him go...Theo Epstein sees a diamond that needs polishing and picks him up...to this: A clutch hitter the likes of which Boston baseball hasn't seen since...never? And that's saying something considering the Hall of Famers that've donned the home uniform in Boston.
What did the Twins NOT see? What DID Epstein, and no other MLB GM, see?
By the way, did you know that Ortiz, then 20 years old, was traded from the Seattle Mariners to the Minnesota Twins in 1996 to complete a deal made earlier that year. The Mariners sent a Papi, um, player to be named later to the Twins for Dave Hollins (?!).
All I can say is "Thank you Seattle. And thank you Minnesota for letting go one of the major pieces of every Red Sox team he has been a part of, including the 2004 championship team and this year's squad.
Craig Black, Union, NJ
Craig, Twins GM Terry Ryan admits he made a "bad baseball decision." Ortiz seemed to have hit a plateau, in the Twins' opinion. He'd had some injury issues (wrist and elbow), he was below-average as a fielder, and they didn't project him to show the kind of power he did. No one else in baseball did, either the Twins shopped him around before the Rule 5 draft that year, and no one bit. When the Sox took him, Jeremy Giambi was still the guy who was projected to get the most ABs; Ortiz came into Sox camp that year as a guy who'd get maybe 200-300 ABs, playing behind Giambi and Shea Hillenbrand, who was splitting time at third with Billy Mueller. Theo has admitted he didn't know what the Sox had in Papi, but to Theo's credit, he created the chance for Papi to show what he could do when he traded Hillenbrand to Arizona for B.K. Kim, although in truth that deal was inspired more by the Sox need to stabilize their pen than to make a star out of Ortiz. We should call it for what it is: Serendipity.
Hi Gordon, I was reading the scouting report on the Red Sox first-round
draft pick Daniel Bard. It said that he pitches in the 90-94 miles per hour range. Watching the College World Series, he was hitting 96, 97, 98, 99 on the gun with great mechanics and a real smooth windup. Baseball Tonight's Harold Reynolds was totally gushing over Bard, saying
that if the bats where lumber he would be destroying hitters at the next level. So my question is how fast do you think the Red Sox are going to let him fly through the minors to the majors? The way I see it he is going to be on the fast track ... he certainly seems like one of the best prospects in the system, even more so then some of the other highly touted pitchers in the
Carlos V., Boston
Carlos, I watched much of the College World Series final, in which Bard got pinned with the loss but pitched great. Oregon State scored the winning run after Bard's coach paid what appeared to be a totally unnecessary visit to the mound after Bard had set down 13 in a row; right afterward, Bard issued his first walk of the game, and that wound up being the winning run after a cheap hit and an error. He was dealing that night, hitting the upper 90s throughout the game. Sure, he could come quickly, but I don't think we're looking at a Craig Hansen rush job. It also depends on when he signs, but I would expect he'll put in a full season at high-A and another one at Double-A before the Sox even think about the big leagues. Performance will dictate his advancement, obviously.
I was wondering whether you think it would make sense for the Sox to try using Matt Clement as a setup guy. If you look at Clement's numbers this year, they're excellent the first time through opposing lineups but get progressively (and drastically) worse the second and third times he faces batters during a game. I don't know whether he loses focus or opponents just figure him out, but it suggests Clement might be able to thrive in middle relief, an area where the
Red Sox need the most help right now. Your thoughts?
Meir Hamilton, Brooklyn, NY
Meir, I think the Sox need Clement to start; if they think he can't do that, they move him, which they've tried to no avail to this point. He had another setback in his latest rehab start, reporting some biceps soreness, so he remains a real question mark, but for $9-plus million a year, you're not going to have him pitching middle relief, at least not for long.
Although I like some system to determine the home field advantage for the World Series, I dislike the method used currently. An exhibition All-Star Game, determined by the fans for the most part, seems inconsistent. Is there any thoughts to modify this system? Perhaps the use of collective interleague play records could solve this dilemma? It certainly would solve the logistics problem as interleague play is over before the All-Star Game begins, and it just
Rob Ripka, Syracuse, NY
Rob, I'm with you; it's obviously only a gimmick to try to drum up interest in the game, and Terry Francona, for one, says he's uncomfortable with it because of its schizo "exhibition-that-counts" personality. Your suggestion has merit, and is more workable from a logistical standpoint than Francona's desire to have the team with the best overall record in the game to be rewarded with home-field advantage. Maybe the fairest thing is to go back to the AL-NL home-field by alternating years and come up with another way to make people care about the All-Star Game.
Let's talk about Bronson Arroyo and his impressive success thus far in the NL ... I understand the general consensus that the NL have weaker hitting lineups, if for no other reason, the fact that the number 9 batter is a pitcher ... but aside from that, I'd have to say he truly appears to be pitching better ... I am wondering if his "stuff" is actually better these days ... have you heard much talk about it from scouts? Is he actually a better pitcher now or is he simply better due to the weaker NL?
Mark, I don't know if you saw my story with Bronson, but he openly acknowledged it's much easier against the weaker NL lineups, especially compared to having to face the loaded lineups in the AL East. He said he hasn't morphed as a pitcher; he feels he would have pitched equally as well with the Sox, although the numbers wouldn't have been as impressive. We'll get to see him in Pittsburgh in the All-Star Game; don't be surprised if he gets booed; the last time the Reds visited the Pirates, Bronson really trashed them, saying he was embarrassed to lose to such a weak lineup.
Hey, this is Tyler here. I was wondering, with the Sox needing pitching what kind of moves would they make? I was thinking that they could go after Ervin Santana of the Angels. The Angels would be willing to trade him for some hitting. They've also got Jered Weaver so it's possible that Santana could go right? Maybe to the Sox. Thanks for answering, I read your mailbag every week. I enjoy reading the input you have on other fans' questions.
Tyler Manoukian, Carlisle
Hey, Tyler, glad you're a regular reader, but unless they're reviving the Manny talks, I can't see the Angels parting with Ervin Santana. They love him, and I'm not sure there's any hitter they'd give him up for.
I have heard the idea of Craig Hansen and David Murphy for Dontrelle Willis. Given how well Jonathan Papelbon has done as closer and the fact that Hansen's game seems to be more suited for a closer role than starter this maybe isn't all that bad of a trade. Would this get it done for the Marlins? Would it be a good trade for the Sox?
Chris Marcus, New York, NY
Chris, we were just in Florida last weekend, and personally, I think it would be nuts for the Marlins to trade Dontrelle. He's just 24, and that team is going to be good a lot quicker than anyone expected. Hansen is an interesting bargaining chip in a deal, though it would have to be a big one; scouts are divided on Murphy, who is playing well in Pawtucket. Some guys I've talked to project him as a fourth outfielder at best.
I've just sent a question to Jerry Remy about what I think is his excessive amount of on the air self promotion.(Rem Dogs, Wallys, etc.) What do you think? Is it common for announcers to be touting their products during a broadcast?
Richard Nessen, Lincoln, Vt.
Richard, in all honesty, this is the first time I've ever heard anyone make that complaint. Seems to me that much of Rem's "self-promotion" is tongue in cheek, and poking fun at himself, though he's a savvy enough businessman to know it doesn't hurt to mention such things. Which reminds me, Rem's All-Star party at Fenway Park is coming up. Anyone interested should check this out.
I enjoyed reading your article about the 10 pitchers the BoSox should consider at the deadline. Bronson Arroyo looks pretty good right now. I think the Sox should trade for Alfonso Soriano. He could bat leadoff or second in front of Youk, Papi, and ManRam. Run production would immediately increase and would be the difference maker in putting the Yanks in second place. I know the argument would be, where does he play? Put him at second or RF. It doesn't matter -- they need his bat and base speed. Other than Dontrelle Willis he is the
one guy they need. All you need is two horses on the mound for the playoffs (see Schilling and
Johnson in '01). Pitch Beckett at home and all is OK. Add Soriano and this lineup is scary. Your thoughts?
Russell Haynie, Clifton, Va.
Me, I'd rather have some pitching. The Sox lineup is producing runs at almost the same rate as last season. Other teams will be bidding for Soriano, who will cost plenty in prospects, and he's eligible for free agency after the season. I wouldn't go down that road.
I am all for interleague play, but with a slight change. I would love to see it become "reverse interlegue play". For instance, if the Mets come to Fenway, the Red Sox have the home field
advantage, but we would play by NL Rules. This way Fenway fans actually get to SEE an NL game played in Fenway. And, if the Red Sox go to a NL League park, have it played by AL rules, so THEY get to see a game played by our rules. I think three games out of 81 played by NL Rules would be interesting and a game I'd want to go see. I was wondering your opinion on interleague play and such an idea?
Bill S., Leominster
Bill, I think that's a real good idea, and is really more keeping with the spirit of the whole interleague concept. Give Sox fans not only a chance to see NL teams, but experience games played NL style: lots of pinch hitting, double switching, etc. A very good idea.
Love the Sunday notes. My question is why are the umps wearing black armbands or the black strips on their shirts? Is it because of the ump Gregg's death? Please keep us informed on Peter Gammons' complete recovery.
Dave McMahon, Manassas, Va.
Shortly after Gregg's death, MLB authorized umpires to wear black armbands for a 30-day period, which expires this week. Peter remains hospitalized, but we all remain optimistic that he will have a full recovery.
I know this sounds silly, but have you seen Wally the Green Monster at Fenway Park? Why did he go from being a big, strong looking monster to a huge belly, jolly monster? I think in these times of obesity awareness, any public figure who is fit and strong is a good example. Wally used to look like that. Now he looks like all he does is sit on the couch drinking beer.
Rachel Weeks, Billerica
Rachel, have you noticed whether Wally's head has gotten suspiciously bigger, or has his back broken out in excessive acne? If so, you know what that means! Either that, or he's gotten a long-term contract and he doesn't feel the pressure to work out anymore!
Two quick questions: How does the media continue to misunderstand Boston fans so much? Do many of your colleagues really see Pedro and Johnny Damon as the same situation or are there some out there who know that their time in Boston, their camaraderie with the city, their personas, and their exits are apples and oranges? Second, NESN showed a few seconds of the Pedro tribute they showed, is there any chance of that showing up on the Globe or Sox website?
Jeremy Blaustein, Quincy
Jeremy, I think Globe columnist Bob Ryan, for one, certainly made that distinction, because he certainly made similar points in his column, and I'm sure he's not alone. And the biggest difference of course, is that Johnny wears pinstripes and Pedro doesn't.
As for the Pedro tribute shown on the Sox video scoreboard, that's available if you call Red Sox productions at 617-226-6652. There may be a fee involved.