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.
Why is Francona insisting on keeping Coco at leadoff when we were a first place team with Youk batting first? Can someone find out what the records are with both? I got to believe Youk's is around 50 wins, 30 losses and Crisp's is 15 W's and 23 L's! I don't want to hear about protecting Manny when Lowell batted fifth almost all season!
Daniel Doyle, Springfield
A:Daniel, I just happen to have those numbers at hand. The Sox are 49-32 when Youkilis leads off, 19-16 when Coco is in the top spot. In a perfect world, Tito would no doubt opt for Youkilis's high on-base percentage, although in reality, he'd happily have Coco lead off if he played the way he did in the series finale against the Tigers, collecting a couple of hits, dropping a big sacrifice bunt, delivering a Wall-Ball double. But with Trot Nixon, the only player who has been effective in the 5-hole, out with his biceps injury, Youkilis is the only option to bat behind Papi and Manny in the order, and the numbers support him. Mike Lowell? He's batting just .102 (5 for 49) when he has been in the 5-hole, with no home runs or RBIs. Perhaps in time, with more plate discipline, Wily Mo Pena would be an option, but not yet. Jason Varitek, when he come back, could also be reinstalled there-he was showing signs after the break of coming out of his offensive struggles, but for now, Youk's the one.
What has the Sox record been since Youkilis moved to the 5th spot? The Sox have had success all season with Youkilis leading off, why not return to that? Don't Lowell and Wily Mo provide enough coverage for Manny? If Youkilis and Loretta continue to get on base as they have all season, it becomes that much harder to pitch around Papi and Manny regardless of who hits behind them.
Joe Korostynski, Knightdale, N.C.
A: Joe, this is obviously a question much on the minds of Sox fans. The Sox are 6-8 when Youk hits in the 5-hole-compared to 40-23 when Nixon is hitting fifth. The best thing that could happen at this stage is if Coco, who admits he's had a streaky season, could go on a run in the last six weeks and be a disruptive force at the top of the order. We know the Coco-Johnny Damon comparisons will be a popular subplot this weekend. But the Sox do need a way to force teams to pitch to Manny, and Youkilis is the best option right now. Interesting, by the way, that teams this season prefer to take their chances with Papi than Manny. Ortiz leads the league in intentional walks with 18; Manny has 8.
Here is a change up: Coco isn't the best outfielder on the defensive side but he has great speed. So if he can't play great defense or lead off then why not trade him in the offseason for pitching and sign Nixon and put Pena in center field. Pena reminds me of the year that the Sox had Jeremy Giambi and Kevin Millar splitting time with David Ortiz. If the Sox are letting Lester Hanson and Delcarmen pitch why not play Pena everyday? If he struggles at least he will be hidden behind Manny and Ortiz... When the young pitchers struggle it's on the front page of the Globe.
Steve Games, Andover
A: Steve, I wonder how much the trade for Hinske will affect Trot's future with the club. Hinske, remember, started the season in a right-field platoon with Alex Rios, which the Jays abandoned only when Rios exploded onto the scene as a star-in-the-making. The Sox are now on the hook for $2.8 million next season for Hinske, who, it would seem, makes Trot expendable if they elect to go into the season with a Hinske/Pena platoon in right. That said, it wouldn't surprise me if the Sox explored trade possibilities w/Coco. He's reasonably priced and offers cost certainty for teams in the market for a CF, and the Sox could well take a run at an Andruw Jones, for example.
Love your columns and reporting on NESN Pre-Game. Don't you feel as though the season really weighs on Josh Beckett's shoulder(s)? My feeling is that Schilling is consistently on mark and you know you can get good 3-5 type rotation stuff from Wake (when back) and Wells, but I can't see the Sox making a serious run without another front line starter. Beckett is that guy, that's why we went out and got him, but unless he starts pitching like it, aren't we doomed for another, "wild card" round and out, trip to the playoffs?
Bob Klane, Billerica
A: Bob, I think that's a pretty fair analysis, especially when you think of how the White Sox rode their starting pitching to the title last season (though I still think the biggest inning of their postseason run was delivered by El Duque, when he came out of the bullpen with the bases loaded and nobody out in the Fens and set down the next three batters in order). Sure, it's simplifying things to put it all on one guy, but Beckett certainly is the pitcher raising the most red flags right now.
Greetings from the Nation in Australia (there's a surprising population here I can assure you). I admire your even-handedness in this column, but I think you'd have to admit a playoff berth is forlorn (especially with the schedule coming up: 21 games in 20 days including five v the Yankees, 9-game west coast road trip). Nixon, Wells, Wakefield, Clement, Timlin, Foulke, Varitek, Kapler, Crisp, Pena, have all been on the DL. I actually can't remember a worse run with injuries. They are running on fumes. In some ways they have over-achieved. Not being negative, just realistic.
Paul Andreacchio, Sydney, Australia
A: Paul, we've had other correspondents from Down Under, and I can't think of another place I'd rather spend an off-season than among some of the friendliest folks on the planet. But buck up, Paul, it isn't quite as bleak as you make it. The Bombers lost Sheffield and Matsui, remember, and Wells has come back from the dead, Wakefield looks like he'll be back by next weekend, when the team is in Seattle, and Varitek may not be too far behind. Losing Nomar for a season with his wrist injury, Varitek for half a season with his busted elbow, Pedro for weeks with shoulder problems, the Sox have always had to deal with key losses. It's the nature of the beast to have to survive injuries, and down to the last 43 games of the season, they are right there. And it's the Year of Big Papi, too. So crack open a Foster's and enjoy the ride.
I was watching the Royals' broadcast of the 8/10/06 game and they commented that Wade Boggs once went a full season without popping up on the infield. Is this true? If so, could I get some details? My own efforts at confirming or denying this statistic have failed. Any help would be appreciated. If it was true, it might be the most amazing statistic of all-time. Personally, I think those announcers were full of ...it.
Josh Pinard, Dayton, Ohio
A: Josh, never question the sagacity of Royals announcers. We put the question to Sox PR chief John Blake and his crew of crack researchers. They were happy to inform the 'Bag that in 1986, Boggs did not hit a popup until Aug 8, then hit just two more the rest of the season, Aug. 21 and 27.
I couldn't agree more with Lou Greenberg about Jerry Remy's constant self-promotion and personal ancedotes. I want to watch a baseball game and have IT be analyzed not "how long it took him to get a taxi etc." I have come to the point where I turn the sound off and just watch. Is Don Orsillo paid extra to be his "straight" man. Try listening to Jim Kaat on the Yankees or Ron Darling on the Mets. You'll see what a true BASEBALL analyst sounds like.
Bill Murphy, Rocky Hill, Conn.
A: Bill, I'm truly puzzled by this current of Remy-bashing that occasionally pops up. I agree that Jim Kaat is a terrific analyst and I admit that I have not caught Ron Darlin's work on Mets telecasts, but you make it sound as if Remy is all fluff, which I know is hardly the case. He knows this team as well as anybody, his knowledge of the game is exceptional, and he communicates that knowledge in a way most people find very useful to their understanding of what's happening on the field. The fact that he also injects some humor and personality in the course of a game, for many people-including me-only enhances his appeal. But if he bothers you that much, you're probably doing the right thing by turning down the sound, because Rem is unlikely to be going anywhere for a long time to come.
Who would have thought that it's Tim Wakefield that makes the Red Sox go? What's their record this year with him and without him? Over the last few years? Seems like when he's here, we don't notice him. When he's gone, we lose, and nobody notices that he's gone. (course the Varitek-missing stat might be equally telling).
Bill Lattanzi, Belmont
A: Bill, the Sox were 55-36 when Wakefield went on the DL July 18. They're 14-14 since. Of course, they've also been dealing with the loss of Jason Varitek and Trot Nixon in that span, but there's no question Wakefield's absence has had a significant impact. In their last 24 games, a Sox starter has gone at least seven innings just four times, and Schilling has done it three times, Wells the other. That takes its toll on the bullpen. Last season, Wakefield went seven innings or more 19 times in 32 starts, 7 times in 13 starts this season.
My wife and I are going to Toronto for the September series with the Sox and we're looking for good places to eat, drink and be merry. Any recommendations? Thanks.
Scott Koblenzer, Goffstown, N.H.
A: Scott, you and your wife are going to one of my favorite destinations on the circuit. There are a ton of watering holes and restaurants within walking distance of Skydome (Rogers Centre), including Gretzky's, "The Loose Moose" (what a great name!), "Montana", "Armadillo Texas Grill" and "Fred's Not Here". Jimy Williams used to swear by the town's Italian neighborhood, and the steak houses like "Hy's" and "The Keg Mansion" are popular among the baseball set. Toronto is really a cosmopolitan town, with a strong Asian influence, so you have your pick of Thai, Chinese, Japanese restaurants as well. And make sure you get down to the water. It's a great stroll along Lake Ontario.