Boston Globe baseball writer Gordon Edes checks in every week (usually on Fridays) to answer your questions on the Red Sox. Ask yours now, and come back next week to see whether it was answered.
Gordon, I enjoy your work and respect your judgment. Old enough to have seen Rice and Lynn in Bristol, Conn.. It is my belief that a rare opportunity arises to get a quality catcher and I think the Sox should make every effort to get "Salty" from Atlanta. If you check out stats from all teams no one stands out at that position like he does. Tek will be hard to replace but you have to take steps when the time is right.
Len Jacobson, Wallingford, Conn.
A: Len, I wish I could just call him "Salty," too, without having to try and spell his name. But for those who don't know the player to which you're referring, it's Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who in addition to being a challenge to any computer's spellcheck is also a fine catcher. The Braves have a good young catcher in Brian McCann, so they might be willing to part with "Salty," though there are people in the organization who are lobbying that they just put him at a different position in order to keep his bat. Right now, "Salty" is the piece the Braves are waving at the Rangers in a proposed trade for Mark Teixeira, the switch-hitting first baseman. Hard to see the Sox being able to compete with that, unless they were willing to part with their very best prospects. I agree, the Sox need to prepare for Life After Varitek, although Jason has had an excellent bounce-back season at the plate and Jorge Posada, who turns 36 next month, is proof positive that a catcher can continue to put up good numbers at an advanced age. "Salty" would be a great fit, but I don't see it happening.
I said it back in Spring Training and I'll say it again: I think we're seeing another great, strategic Theo move right under our noses for Mark Teixeira. I am convinced that, while Theo is unable to hide the fact he's being very "active". I think he's playing up big-time this notion that he won't part with any of his prize prospects. I think that's nonsense. I think there's a fair to middlin' chance he finds the right combination -- and probably trades at least one young guy that will make Sox fans whine and gyrate -- but does it for a 27-year-old, switch-hitting first baseman whose only knock coming in might be that his career splits at Fenway are atrocious. Overall n his career however, Teixera has an away OPS that is an acceptable 50 points lower than his home one -- and overall is outstanding. This guy's making Lowell money for another year, has 4-5 prime years left, and is an undeniable hitting machine. This team has too many strengths (starting pitching, bullpen depth, solid defense) and a lineup that's probably one good hitter away from Tigers-level. Their WS prospects are real, and more importantly Teixeira fits their mold of finding mid-to-late 20s, established players just before they make it huge on the market. I expect they'll swallow a bit hard, give up John Lester or Jacoby plus someone else, plus also try hard to ink Teixeira (now) to a 4-5 year extension at $17 mil per (sure beats A-Rod $$)...of course, I could be wrong. Your thoughts?
A: Robert, you may be right, and we'll all know in a few days. If you are, I'll be the first to congratulate you. I remember the day or two before Nomar was traded, Tito Francona telling my colleague Bob Hohler there was a less than 10 percent chance that Nomar would be dealt, which made me feel very queasy, since I'd been writing that I thought a Nomar deal could happen. Theo certainly is not above saying one thing publicly, and striking a very different course privately, though the vibes I get from everyone in the Sox organization is that they're not going to part with either Buchholz or Ellsbury. That said, as you so eleoquently state, the Sox would not be getting a player on the downside of his career. They'd be getting a guy just entering his prime and could be a terrific impact player for years to come. But Jon Daniels, the Texas GM, may be in a situation where he needs good young talent that can immediately impact, and he may lean more toward what the Braves or Angels are offering.
Being in the medical profession, I can certainly appreciate all the positive attention Jon Lester is receiving. It is all well deserved. But, let's not put Kason Gabbard in a secondary positiion here. Objectively speaking (not emotionally or subjectively), Kason Gabbard has better numbers. I think it would be a terrible move to trade either one. I don't consider Gabbard a 'prospect' any longer. He, in my humble opinion, has proven himself to be a true major league 'pitcher' and not a 'thrower'. Without trying to sound cruel, Jon Lester would be the logical one to go. Hopefully, NEITHER one goes and the team keeps both of them until the distinct possibility that Schilling hangs 'em up next year. Or, Wakefield is sent to the bullpen...don't forget that he can close and go long distance. In essence, I truly hope that Gabbard sticks around. He reminds me of a younger Mark Buehrle.
Frank Dougal, Roseburg, Ore.
A: As well as Gabbard has pitched, I think we should withhold judgment before deciding he's a younger Mark Buehrle (Gabbard is 25, Buehrle 28). I concur with your judgment that he's not a thrower, but I still wonder if his stuff is good enough to sustain the kind of success he's had while filling in for Schilling. It could well be that it is. We have seen numerous instances, particularly with left-handers, of pitchers who have thrived even without great stuff because of their ability to throw strikes, change speeds, and keep hitters off-balance. No one predicted Gabbard would even advance this far after the multiple surgeries he has had. But I certainly don't accept that you keep Gabbard, on the basis of a handful of starts, over Lester, whom the Sox clearly believe has a higher ceiling.
Do you have any faith in Matt Clement coming back, or are we just going to have to accept his status as our Carl Pavano?
Adam, Jamaica Plain
A: Adam, watching Matt Clement long-tossing last week, it was hard for me to envision that he'll be in a position to help the Sox in September, and after this season, his contract expires, meaning he'll become a free agent, and re-signing with the Sox is not on the radar. I would quarrel with your characterization of Clement as "our Pavano" however. Clement gave the Sox one good season--OK, some would argue a good half season-in 2005, and unlike Pavano, who had injuries stemming from a car accident and earned the anger of the Yankees for lying about it--Clement shredded his shoulder from pitching. If anything, Clement is owed an apology from anyone who thought his problems were just psychological in nature -- stemming from his beaning by a Carl Crawford line drive -- or questioned his heart in other ways. That includes some of us in the media.
With a focus on umpiring performances over the last few days, I was wondering about this unwritten rule that rookie pitchers should not get as many close strike calls as veterans. Can't this be considered a minor "fixing" of the game? An umpire is making a conscious decision before and during the game that veteran pitcher from Team A will get more outside pitches called as strikes than the rookie pitcher from Team B will. This could also affect those players on Team B who have to swing at those outside pitches for fear that they will be called strikes. This clearly gives one team an unfair advantage throughout and couldn't this indirectly help determine the outcome of a game? Couldn't this be considered an abuse of power on the umpire's part?
Bryan M., Wakefield
A: Bryan, I would challenge the premise of your argument. There is no unwritten rule that veteran pitchers get more close strike calls than rookies. No umpire in my experience goes into a game with that mindset, and I have never heard a single baseball person--rookie or otherwise--suggest it. Look how many rookie pitchers have had great seasons over the years--a 19-year-old Doc Gooden, for example, Fernando Valenzuela, or even Daisuke Matsuzaka. A strike is a strike. Now, if you had told me an umpire might be affected if Ted Williams takes a pitch, as opposed to say, Wily Mo Pena, I would agree with you. Because Ted was known to have such a great eye--the opposite for WMP--an umpire might hesitate to throw a hand out, signaling a strike. But that hardly falls within the province of "fixing" a game.
Plain and simple - with starters like Manny and Coco NOT hustling all the way to the bag(s) and/or home plate, they simply DO NOT deserve to win the division. The Yanks are closing FAST, just the opposite of how Manny and Coco finish running to the bag(s). The Yanks are demonstrating the hustle and energy as a team, to a player, that every professional team should demonstrate. Don't get me wrong - I am not changing allegiances nor will I ever - it's just sometimes the truth hurts. Please pass on the S.O.S. to Francona and company to BUST SOME TAIL, NOW before it is truly too late!
Mitchell Lutch, Pella, Iowa
A: Mitch, I feel your pain, The episodes in Cleveland were inexcusable. The Manny jog to first, we've seen so many times before, and he's not the only big leaguer guilty of such a transgression. And Coco slowing up coming to the plate, and the on-deck hitter, Manny, not even around to signal for him to slide, cost the Sox a ballgame. I wasn't with the ballclub in Cleveland--my daughter is getting married later today--but I hope that someone, whether it was Terry or a veteran player--addressed the issue behind closed doors. Sadly, I wouldn't count on it.
I'm tired of hearing how Wily Mo Pena will only improve by getting more at bats. Why don't they just send him down to Pawtucket to play everyday? Is he out of options?
A: Bill, a popular question, one we've answered many times before, and with you saying you hail from Cincinnati, I'm surprised you ask. Wily Mo was still with the Reds when he ran out of options. The Sox cannot send him to the minors without first obtaining waivers, and teams aren't going to let WMP pass through waivers. So even though the Sox would agree that WMP needs to play every day, they can't do anything about it. And that's why you shouldn't be surprised if WMP ends up somewhere else next week, where he can indeed see regular playing time.
Why does Jerry Remy keep harping on that stupid Red Sox Nation president? I hope they elect somebody soon, so he will shut up about it.
Gary Saucier, Worcester
A: Gary, Rem talks about it because it's a promotion/program near and dear to the heart of the Sox brass, particularly Larry Lucchino. I think they see it as something that will really help in creating an even greater link between the fans and the team. I'm a little dubious myself, but Lucchino has the kind of track record that suggests he knows a thing or two about marketing a ballclub.
I am concerned that J.D. Drew's swing is technically flawed, as pretty as it looks. It seems that he doesn't keep his right shoulder in line with the pitch and pulls it away to the right as he swings. He should be hitting more to left, which might correct this bad tendency. What do you think?
A: Tom, I admit I haven't studied his swing as intently as you have. If J.D. is indeed doing what you describe, that would be a problem, wouldn't it? And yes, I agree that Drew would be better served going the opposite way more ... in the spring, we were led to believe that Drew would be peppering the Wall with hits, and it hasn't happened.
Hey Gordon, Every time the Sox play the Twins the announcers comment on how the Twins gave up on Ortiz and let him get away (thank you very much by the way). Do you know what the reasons behind that move were? And more specifically, do the Sox run the same kind of risk by trading Wily Mo? I would hate for the same to be said about Pena down the road, and how the Sox just gave up on him and let him get away. Thanks for your time!
Brad, San Francisco
A: My colleague Nick Cafardo talked to Twins GM Terry Ryan last September about the circumstances that led to Ortiz's departure from Minnesota in 2002, an oft-told story. "Plain and simple, it was a bad decision," Ryan told Nick. "I just made a bad decision. It was me. Nobody else is to blame. If I knew he was going to be first, second, or third in the MVP voting the last three years, I certainly wouldn't have released him." But before anyone decides to call Ryan a dope, consider this: The Twins offered Ortiz at the winter meetings in 2002, and not a single team showed interest. With Ortiz at $950,000 and in an arbitration year, the Twins made the decision to non-tender him, which made him a free agent. Any team could have had him. The Sox signed him over five weeks later, and for only a slight raise ($1.25m) over what he'd been making with the Twins, and only after Dave Jauss assured Theo after watching Ortiz in the Dominican that Big Papi played first base. The Sox envisioned him as a backup to Jeremy Giambi! Ryan told Nick that Papi landed in the right place. "I do think that Fenway was a better ballpark for him than the Metrodome," Ryan said. "He was hitting a lot of fly balls to the warning track at the Metrodome. But having said all that..."
More of a comment than a question, but have you noticed how mediocre every team has become? As of today, only 1 team (the Sox) are above .600 (barely), and 1 team is below .400 (the Rays, of course). All other teams are just plain mediocre. I have to say, I miss the days of good and bad teams. One thing's for sure, stats like that show that it isn't worth it to spend tons of cash on talent. Your team's going to end up .500 these days anyway!
A: Dave, Don't limit your view to just one division. From my unscientific view, there are about the same number of good teams in the AL as always--the Sox, Tigers, Indians and Angels are the class of the league right now, the Yankees are closing in fast, and the Mariners are hovering as a possible contender. If anything, in recent years, because of the wild card, more teams go into the last two months of the season with a shot at the postseason than ever before. That's done a lot to heighten interest.
If the Sox were trying to bend over backward to protect Lester following his recovery from cancer, why did they send him out for his first start with only 4 days rest? Wouldn't it have been better to give him his normal five days rest?
A: Carolina, in a five-man rotation, four days constitutes regular rest for a pitcher. Lester was on the schedule he's been following much of the season.
While watching the game the nightly trivia question was "When was the last time two red sox drafted starters pitched in the same rotation.. The answer was in 1991 with Bolton and someone else.. Shouldnt the answer have been Last year with Schilling and Lester? Schilling was drafted by the Red Sox.
Ryan Molloy, Lawrence
A: Ryan, are you sure the question wasn't about the last time the Sox had three homegrown pitchers in the rotation? Because in 1991, the Sox had Clemens, Tom Bolton and Kevin Morton, all of whom were drafted by the club. There have been other times between '91 and now that they've had two.
Gordon, are the letters in the mailbag printed in the Globe Newspaper, or is this just a digital mailbag? Living here in Florida and not having found a local bookstore or magazine shop that carries the Globe I haven't been able to check and was curious.
Dave BraveRaven, Sarasota, Fla.
A: Dave, the 'Bag, at least for now, is strictly an Internet production.
Hey Gordon, Great job on all the mailbags, I am always looking forward to the next one. After Jon Lester's performance last night in Cleveland it got me wondering. If Lester continues to pitch as effectively as last night, what will happen when Schilling returns to our rotation? Kason Gabbard has been pitching extremely well as of late. Is there any chance that the Sox would employ the six-man rotation for the remainder of the season? At first glance it sounds crazy, however the more I think about it the more it makes sense. It would provide a little more rest for Curt's shoulder, Matsuzaka is used to the six-man rotation from Japan and it may provide his arm some needed rest. The one additional day between starts could keep Beckett's finger from blistering at the wrong time. Lester and Gabbard who aren't accustom to seasons this long would be fresh as well. The only person it wouldn't help or hurt would be Wake, who can throw anytime you want him to. What is your stance on this idea? Thanks!
Nate Smith, Palmerton, Pa.
A: Nate, the idea has some merit, for the reasons you outline, but I think the Sox want more starts out of their aces than they would get every sixth day.
Gordon, I had the pleasure of seeing the future on back-to-back evenings. On Monday, I traveled to Cleveland to see Jon Lester in his return to the Sox. Quite an emotional evening. Lester looked poised and in control and pitched VERY well. On Tuesday, I got to see Nick Hagadone bounce back from his rough first outting for the Spinners and throw 2 no-hit innings with 3 K's. He hit 93 on the gun a few times. Very good news.
Doug Berlin, Jamestown, N.Y.
A: Doug, that's a pretty cool double-header, and I commend your dedication.
Recently instant replay was mentioned by the Sox manager as something that could be used without too much delay to the game... I'm tired of hearing that instant replay would take away the human element in the game and take too much time. An ump in the press box as was suggested would not take as much time as the manager and umps yelling at each other. I'm tired of hearing that instant replay would make a game too long. We know that baseball is a money game and each game is important. I suggest replay for certain calls only. Please give me the real reason why there is on replay in baseball. Football fans sit through instant replay and they don't complain about any possible delay. Baseball fans must be too tired to sit through a few extra minutes per game.
Martha Clements, Somerville
A: Martha, I would be in favor of instant replay for a very limited number of calls. Whether a ball is a home run or not, for example, or fair or foul. But to have instant replay for every close call at a bag, I don't know, that could prove pretty cumbersome. The umpires' naked eye might still be as decisive as instant replay on many plays.