Theo's quiet on the trade front
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.
I saw on ESPN Thursday night that the Red Sox were talking with the Padres about a possible trade including Mike Lowell. Is this even on the radar? What do the San Diego Padres possibly have that could replace the Gold Glover? They have a great team for a division with a sub-.500 winner, but come on, Lowell has been clutch and his defense has been stellar. I really hope that this guy who came in and put up with all you guys saying he's got a "slow" bat, and treated him like we got the screws put to us and the only way to get Beckett was to take Lowell, gets a fair shot in Boston and gets to stay. I don't see any upside to trading Mike Lowell.
Paul Brown, Nashua N.H.
A: Paul, first, a word about obtaining accurate information regarding any trade talks the Red Sox are conducting. General manager Theo Epstein is very clear in his determination to stem the flow of information regarding any talks the Sox are having regarding trades. We had a conversation about it this week, and it is his position that in a rapidly shrinking world in which instant communication reigns--blogs, 24/7 radio and TV, websites, etc.--it is not in a team's interests to acknowledge, confirm, hint at, trade rumors and speculation. He contends that in his term here, the team has been hurt by such information getting out. It was evident in his remarks that he has put the organization on notice that any such "leaks" are not welcome and will not be tolerated. Such a position, of course, is at odds with what reporters like myself attempt to do in providing information to fans, but Theo obviously is not in the business of facilitating my job; he answers to someone other than the Globe. It would be easy for me to say to Theo, "Lighten up, whether the Sox are talking to the Giants about a swap of a third baseman for a pitcher is not exactly a matter of national security.'' It isn't, of course. And I suppose I could also point out that such information only creates a greater appetite for all things Red Sox, which indirectly at least has to be good for business. On the other hand, it would be patently unfair of me not to acknowledge that when millions of dollars are often at stake, it may well be in an organization's best interests to control the flow of information. Hey, I started in a different era, when GM's often were more freewheeling and generous with what they felt they could share with the media. And I suspect that Theo has been influenced in part by what for him devolved into a very unpleasant experience, the public airing of his own negotiations with the Sox, some (much?) of which he considered inaccurate and inflammatory. Do I wish he felt differently? Of course. And does that absolve me from pursuing whatever information I can? Obviously not. But I just wanted to give you and the 'Baggers some view of the lay of the land.
All right, having said all that, it's quite possible the Pads asked about Lowell, but I can't see the Sox moving him, and I find it impossible to imagine the Pads moving Peavy.
I read baseball related info each day, and I haven't heard a peep regarding J.T. Snow. Did he end up with a team, such as the Giants? Or is he still floating out there somewhere? Inquiring minds wanna know.
Tom, Hooksett, N.H.
A: Tom, J.T. did not sign with another club. He just quietly retired. This, of course, has been a very trying year for him. Earlier this year, J.T. lost his dad, Jack Snow, the former Rams wide receiver that was still a relatively young man and died due to complications from a staph infection. Snow had a long and prosperous career with the Angels and Giants and leaves the game with an impeccable reputation.
Am I the only one that notices Curt Schilling gives up a TON of hits on 0-2 counts?? Look, I love the guy... he is an out and out stud, a sure-fire Hall-of-Famer, but in all those notes he keeps isn't there a stat that suggests he should waste a pitch on 0-2? By the way, he gave up two hits on 0-2 counts today.
Doug Berlin, Jamestown, N.Y.
A: Doug, your observation has some merit, and I'll be sure to ask Curt about it this weekend. Opposing batters are batting .246 (14 for 57) with five doubles and a home run when Schilling has an 0 and 2 count, which has happened 183 times this season. That average is almost double what Sox batters are hitting on an 0-and-2 count (32 for 248, 111 K's), is higher than the league average (.175) and is 85 percentage points higher than Schilling in 2004 (.161, 18 for 112, 49 K's). That would suggest that Schilling's put-away stuff isn't what it used to be, but I think the question warrants some reflection from Curt.
What is the deal with Shea Hillenbrand? Is he misunderstood or a malcontent? As I understand it, the Sox nurtured him through their farm system, brought him up to the Show, and he produced admirably and was a fan favorite. They traded him to Arizona, with then new-GM Theo Epstein traveling to the team in Toronto just to give him the courtesy of delivering the news face-to-face, and the next thing I know, Shea is publicly bashing a team that everyone thought treated him pretty well (I'm still surprised he never got booed in his return to Fenway). Now he's done it again with the Blue Jays. I think he's a very talented player, but also a powder keg. Any insights?
Richard Andrade, Somerville
A: Richard, I found Shea to be a rather strange character, an overachiever when he first arrived but one who had a history of fast starts with the Sox and late-season fadeouts. As a rookie, Carl Everett took him under his wing, buying him suits and such, and I think Shea became very defensive because of the issues involving Everett. He used a derogatory slur to describe Theo on the radio-he insists he was joking, but it was nonetheless bad judgment, and he was unrelenting in his criticism of how the team traded him at the time, even though, as you point out, Theo made the trip to tell him personally. He felt he was mistreated by the media, and while personality issues didn't lead to his trade by the Red Sox, they clearly caused his departure from Toronto, where manager John Gibbons basically issued a "Shea or me" ultimatum.
The following was taken from a popular sports website following Josh Beckett's recent poor outing versus the A's. I personally don't agree with the statements but would like to hear how some members of the Red Sox organization would respond. Thanks.
"Josh Beckett was pounded for seven runs in 4 1/3 innings by the A's in a loss on Friday night. Not to let Beckett off the hook here, but it's past time that the media starts questioning Jason Varitek's game-calling abilities. A remarkable number of pitchers the Red Sox have brought in from outside the organization have been disappointments, yet Varitek is almost universally praised for his handling of the staff. Instead of being one of baseball's best defensive catchers, it's entirely possible that he's among the worst. Beckett is now 11-5 with a 5.12 ERA."
A: Sorry, Brian, but I wouldn't even dignify that point of view by presenting it to members of the Sox organization. It is such an ill-informed opinion that I would be embarrassing myself to even lay it out there to Varitek, Terry Francona, Theo or anyone else.
Isn't it time to at least consider the fact that the Sox front office made a few (potentially devastating) mistakes this winter? That may sound funny, considering they currently sit in first place, but hear me out. Beckett, while winning a lot of games, has to be considered a disappointment thus far. Ditto for Crisp. I admit they are still young, but you follow me. Riske and Tavarez have largely underachieved. Lowell has obviously been an unmitigated success, and Wily Mo has shown some signs of future stardom, but look at whom they had to give up to get those guys. Anabal Sanchez looks very promising through his first several starts. Marte has been murdering AAA pitching and should be up soon. And Hanley Ramirez looks like a future superstar. You're telling me that with Hanley at short, Anabal in the bullpen, Arroyo in the rotation, and Youk at third they couldn't have afforded an adequate bat at first and arm in the rotation? These moves may haunt us for years to come.
James Murphy, Washington, D.C.
A: James, have some moves not worked out? Sure, especially the bullpen pickups (Tavarez, Seanez, Riske). The Arroyo deal could well prove to be a bust, and yes, Hanley, Anibal Sanchez and most of all Marte could well become big stars. But clearly, the team disagrees with your analysis of Beckett; by signing him to a 3-year, $30m deal, they are signaling that they believe he is someone around whom they can rebuild an aging rotation. And Lowell, Loretta and Gonzalez have all been great pickups. To properly analyze trades-and how many times have I written this?-Some time is required. Crisp was hurt; I don't see how you can make that judgment yet. The Sox also needed a CF once they decided not to go above $40m for Johnny D., whose agent, Scott Boras, told the Sox he had more than a four-year offer in hand. (If so, where?) Far from being haunted, I think the moves have helped in the short term and down the road.
I think that the angst over a fourth or fifth starter is misplaced. Instead, given Wakefield's injury, Schilling's age, and Beckett's inconsistency, the Red Sox should be looking for a front line starter (a 1 or 1A) to be acquired from a team that is out of the wild card race already and who would want prospects. For example the Cubs may consider moving Zambrano and Scott Eyre if the Red Sox offered enough of a package. I would not trade Pedroia, but would offer either D. Murphy or J. Ellsbury (but not both) and E. Martinez and K. Gabbard and A. Alvarez for Zambrano and Eyre. Of course it would be nice to trade Seanez and/or Tavarez instead of Gabbard and especially instead of Martinez. Let me know your thoughts. Are there other teams, already out of contention, who have a 1 or 1A starting pitcher who might be available for the right prospects besides the
Kevin Sharkey, Bow, N.H.
A: Kevin, even a team out of contention is not going to part with a pitcher like Carlos Zambrano, who is young, relatively cheap and the kind of ace you build a club around. While the Sox's pursuit of Clemens shows that in some ways they agreed with your analysis, that a front-line pitcher would be great to add, signing Clemens would have come without a cost in terms of players given up. Trading for an ace would cost far more than what the Sox would be willing to give up, although I'm sure Theo is pursuing all options.
I just have a couple comments. With the obvious hole in the fifth spot in the rotation I think its time we bring Papelbon in as a starter. Who would be the Sox new closer? Two words: Big Papi. Doesn't it stand to reason that the best clutch hitter in Sox history would be best suited for the high-pressure demands of the closer role? Also consider this: when bringing the DH onto the field, the team must surrender the DH and have the pitcher hit. But the pitcher would be Ortiz, so nothing is lost. What are your thoughts?
Nate Belanger, Williamstown
A: Nate, I don't know what they're growing out there in Williamstown, but you appear to be ingesting some funky stuff. I'd run that by Papi, but I suspect he'd stuff me in a trash can.
I am just quite perplexed how Rudy Seanez and Julian Tavarez (worst acquisitions of the offseason) are still on the team. This time last season, Embree and Halama were both sent packing. Seanez's & Tavarez's ERA are deceiving as they are both bad in the clutch (inherited runners, close situations).
Craig Breslow and Jermaine Van Buren are just two of the quality relief pitchers stockpiled in the system. Is it just their contracts that are blocking
Chris Henderson, Haverhill
A: Chris, the Sox have talked with Colorado about trading Tavarez, and obviously would move Rudy, too. Depending on what Theo is able to accomplish before the deadline, I suspect the scenario you describe could well unfold.
This is the second year in a row the Red Sox are paying huge money to Keith Foulke (I think it's $7.75 million) and getting absolutely no value from him. I believe I once read that as far as next year goes the Red Sox and Foulke both have options on his 4th and final year of his contract. So my question is will the Red Sox be able to get out of paying this stiff almost 8 million dollars again next year or is the 4th year guaranteed?
Robert Lowell, Portland, Maine
A: The Sox hold a $7.5m club option on Foulke next season? There is a $1.5m buyout if they don't exercise it. However, Foulke also has the option of triggering a player option for $3.75m for 2007. Hard to imagine he'd leave that kind of money on the table. Foulke would receive the $1.5m buyout whether or not he exercises his player option, so if he does exercise the option, the Sox would be on the hook for $5.25 million.
Pittsburgh hosted the All Star game in 1994 then again 12 years later in 2006. Can we expect Boston to host the 2011 All Star game? If not are there any plans for the Red Sox to make a bid at a future game? Pittsburgh could say they have a new park to show off but the red Sox can make a case Fenway is 50 percent different than it was in '99.
Ben Robbins, Amherst
A: Ben, with the Sox looking at the 100th anniversary of Fenway in 2012, I would imagine that's the year they're gunning for the A-S Game.
Gordon, I've been trying to get the answer to this question for several months and can't seem to get anyone to respond. Fenway's capacity after the renovations that have already taken place were supposed to bring the capacity of the park to 38,805 this year. However, all of the sellouts have been in the 36,000 ranges. What happened to the other 2,000 seats? Keep up the great work!
Albert Russo, South China, Maine
A: According to a Red Sox spokesman, the 38,000-plus is what is allotted by the fire marshal. The Sox don't at this point have the locations for that capacity, even with standing room.