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.
Any idea how much longer they will wait to call up Dustin Pedroia and give him a shot at the everyday 2B job? The way I see it, he certainly couldn't do any worse at the plate than Mark Bellhorn has done so far (the fact that Pedroia rarely strikes out is good enough for me, at least he'll put the ball in play). And it isn't like Bellhorn is in there for his defense, either. Given the fact that the Evil Empire has turned over their everyday
second-base job to a youngster (Robinson Cano), I'm thinking the Sox might want to try it too, since Pedroia appears to be ready.
Kirk, Bellevue, Neb.
A: Kirk, As maddening as his whiffs are, I've been a Bellhorn backer in the past, arguing that his defense and OBP are sufficient reasons to keep him in the lineup. But Bellhorn's slump is so deep right now -- 4 for 35, .114 in July; .187 (.299 OBP) in 36 games since June 1, I wouldn't be surprised if the Sox give Alex Cora a few starts, quite possibly beginning tonight. Bellhorn's whiffs since June1, 49, outnumber his hits (23) and walks (21) combined. I think they want Pedroia to get some more success in the minors before moving him up, but I think there's a very good chance we'll see him up here before the end of summer.
OK ... it's the top of the ninth inning one night this week at Fenway, the Red Sox have a 3-2 lead against the Yankees. Who trots out from the bullpen? Curt Schilling? Mike Timlin? Do you think Francona will throw Schilling into the fire right away, in his first game -- or series - off the DL?
A: Wade, you got almost everything right but the score. The answer was Schill. The answer, obviously, wasn't Schill, as Sheffield and A-Rod took him to the wall and over. The alarming thing was that Schill didn't have his fastball, which was the hope in situations where he'd be asked to throw only an inning. He hung two splitters, and paid dearly. It will be interesting to see if Schilling gets the call in a similar situation tonight. I don't think it would surprise anyone if Timlin gets last call, though he allowed an inherited runner to score last night in the eighth. I'm sure Timlin would have preferred to start a clear inning, though the numbers supported Alan Embree facing Posada. The sample size wasn't all that significant, though: Posada was 2 for 11 last night before facing Embree, 4 for 11 against Timlin.
With a half season in the books, do you think this Red Sox team is better or worse than last year's?
A: That's an easy one, Larry. A team with a healthy Schilling, an effective Keith Foulke and Pedro Martinez is better than this year's team. Having said that, I think this year's 1-9 lineup is at least as imposing as last season's team. Having Trot Nixon healthy for an entire season, Jason Varitek having a career year offensively and Edgar Renteria settling into the No. 2 hole makes this offense even more dangerous than it was a year ago.
Any truth to the rumor that Manny Ramirez is wearing those MP3 sunglasses while playing the outfield? And if so, could he really be listening to music during games?! And if so, is Terry Francona OK with it?
A: Matt, I asked Terry Francona this week, and he was surprised and annoyed that there was a fuss over it. He said that Manny did wear them in Texas to cut down the glare, for an inning or two, and he has worn them in BP, but Francona insists that he's not listening to music. He said there was no battery or other powering device that would have allowed him to do so.
Gordon, the Sox figure to have several rookies on their '06 roster. Would the millions of payroll dollars saved help provide the extra money that will be necessary to re-sign Damon?
Jeff, Fairfield, Maine
A: Jeff, the Sox are prepared to pay big bucks for Damon -- you have to figure it'll cost them at least the $40 million/4 years they spent to sign Varitek and Renteria. But if there's a team out there willing to give Johnny another year or significantly more dough, I don't think the Sox will go that high. They'll probably start by offering him three years and an option, I expect.
Did you see the juice leaking out of those Home Run Derby balls. It got a LITTLE out of hand, no?
A: Jon, I've never seen baseballs stamped with the word Titleist before.
When I heard the story that Kevin Millar asked for a trade I almost fell out of my chair. Is this guy out of his mind? Does he really think there is a lot of demand for him? I think the Red Sox have been more than generous with the amount of playing time he has received this year. The bottom line is he has not produced. Shouldn't he be happy to still be wearing a uniform?
Lenny, Fall River
A: Lenny, I suspect that when Millar asked to be traded, he was looking for some love from the Sox, some assurances that he still figured prominently in their plans for the rest of the season. Kind of along the lines of, if I'm not going to play, I'd rather go elsewhere. He had a couple of hits Thursday, so maybe his second-half surge is about to begin. But you're right, Theo's phone isn't ringing off the hook with teams looking for Millar.
Do you think there is any way the sox end up with either Billy Wagner or the Rocket before the deadline?
Chuck, Wakefield, RI
A: Chuck, no shot on Clemens -- the Astros are back in the race, they just signed his son, Koby, and owner Drayton McLane would sooner give up his firstborn than the Rocket. The Wagner situation bears watching; if the Phils think they're out of it by the deadline, they may move Wagner.
Matt Wise, the 30-yr-old reliever from Milwaukee has in 44.1 IP, K'd 41 walked 16 and has an ERA of 2.23. This kid looks like he could help us out! Especially with that BAA of .136 ! He's got great stuff . Do you think the Sox would kick the tires on him?
A: Thanks for bringing his name up, Kelvin -- Sox fans are amazing in how closely they follow this stuff. I thought Bottalico was the guy they were looking at in Milwaukee, but you may definitely be onto something.
I'm a huge fan of the mailbag. Any word on the progress of negotiations
with Craig Hansen? If they get it done soon do you see him making an impact
this season? or at least being a Sept. callup?
A: James, I was told in Detroit at the All-Star Game that things were moving along and could get done within a couple of weeks. We're looking at a big-league deal in the four-year, $4.5 million range. If that timetable is accurate, I could see him being considered for a Sept, callup, though Papelbon, Jon Lester and Manny Delcarmen may be more logical callups.
Manny Ramirez hit his 20th grand slam the other day, putting him in 2nd place all
time behind Lou Gehrig...with a long way still to go. Have you ever seen a
better hitter when the bases are loaded than Manny? On the flipside, Jason
Varitek is about the last hitter I want to come up with the bases loaded,
as his career numbers are awful. Why do you think he struggles so much
with the sacks full?
Chris, Cumberland, RI
A: Chris, the name that came to mind with the bases juiced was Pat Tabler, who played for the Cubs, Indians, Royals and Yankees among other teams. I looked up his numbers, and sure enough, he hit an ungodly .489 (43 for 88) with the bases loaded, with 2 HRs and 108 RBIs. That said, that still doesn't compare to what Manny has done, which is just incredible. Damon hit .467 with the bases loaded last season and is at .400 this season; I can't explain why Varitek (.224, 0 HRs with the bases loaded) struggles in such situations; I guess the pat answer would be that he is aware of past failures and is trying too hard.
Of all the Red Sox players up for free agency at the end of this year, who do you think the Sox will actually resign? I know most people want Damon to come back, but I for one will be terribly upset if we don't get Billy Mueller back. Does he even want to stay and do you think the Sox want him?
Cindy, Milford, NH
A: Cindy, I think Mueller comes back if he's willing to sign for short money and years, which he might. Because of his age and questions about his knees, I don't think there will be a big market for him.
Hiya. I'm reading Jim Bouton's "Ball Four." As Tim Wakefield is my favorite Sox player, I'm finding the memoirs of a knuckleballer particularly interesting. For me, one of the book's revelations is that most knuckleballers develop that pitching style after an injury or the aging process robs them of their fastball. I'm not aware of any serious
injuries in Wake's past, so what's the deal? Did he make a conscious decision to become a knuckleball pitcher when he was young, or did health issues force it on him, as it was Bouton? Thanks.
Peter, West Haven, Conn.
A: Peter, Wakefield turned to the knuckleball because he was a failed first baseman in the minor leagues who was converted to a pitcher after he showed off his knuckler.
Is Nomar Garciaparra really coming back in less than a month?!
A: Mo, reports out of Chicago indicate that the Cubs think he'll be back early next month. He's doing baseball activity now.