Boston Globe baseball writer Gordon Edes checks in every week to answer your questions on the Red Sox. Ask yours now, and come back next week to see whether it was answered.
Am I the only one who is beginning to question the actions of the GM? Wily Mo Pena, Bronson Arroyo, Edgar Renteria, Orlando Cabrera, Drew (70 million), Joel Pineiro, J.C. Romero etc. I could keep going! Now we have Gagne, who has cost the Red Sox three games in one week, which they clearly should have won, on nights the Yankees won. Is Theo still living on 2004? Beckett/Lowell came during his leave of absence, so not his deal... He gets our two Japanese pitchers on his side of the ledger, they are great. But too many failures, with the willingness of the owners to pay!!! Interested in your comments.
Larry, Lake Havasu, Ariz.
A: Larry, I can assure you, you have plenty of company. But for what it's worth, a couple of months ago Yankee fans were prepared to run Brian Cashman out of town, and suddenly, with the Yankees playing great, he's a genius again. There's no question that some of Theo's moves haven't worked out, but are we better off evaluating a GM move by move or by how the club has done collectively? And with six weeks left in the season, this team has the best record in baseball. Should that count for something?
- I'm tired of the leadoff double not scoring!
- I'm tired of Papi complaining on a pitch that paints the corner as he swings and misses in the dirt on the next one!
- I'm tired of making the Andy Sonnanstine's of the league look like Cy friggin Young!
- I'm tired of Tito making excuses for his players lack of hustle or timely hitting!
- I'm tired of Manny admiring his 330 ft shot to the 340 ft section of the park.... then getting thrown out trying to "stretch it" into a double!
- I'm tired of Theo making bad deals...stupid deals...nonsensical deals!
- I'm tired of the spin doctors saying "Hey, we have the best record in baseball," as the traffic in the rear-view mirror closes quickly!
- I'm tired of the lack of passion coming from the field as I drop several hundred to go to the games, only to explain to my girls why men playing a kids game for millions more than I will ever make don't hustle or appear to care...only to have the spin doctors (media) defend them with statements like "it's a long season" when players don't take proper care of themselves throughout.
- I'm tired of J. D. Drew...period!
- I'm tired...
I know you won't print or respond to this as it doesn't fit the prototypical Edes blog style, but I feel I have to speak up and vent. I am a Mass. native uprooted by 23 years of military service. I take in games every year, satellite takes care of the rest. I went to Games 2 and 4 in 04' and I am not a fair weather, arm chair member of RSN. One of my most vivid memories as a child was Ed Armbrister interfering with Pudge in the 10th inning of Game 3 in 1975 (I was 9 and went crazy!) I, and many like me still have the passion. My 60" of high-def and what I see at games tells me all I need to know...unless they find the fire, they are done. It's a kids game Gordon....my god, I'd play for free if someone would let me!
Richard Cederman, Virginia Beach, Va.
A: Richard, Man, I got tired just reading how tired you are. My first hope is that you can get a good night's sleep sometime soon. If a team with the best record in baseball (uh-oh, brace yourself for some spin-doctoring) can wear you out this much, I shudder to think what a truly bad team would do to you (I imagine your loved ones would make sure all sharp objects were safely stowed away).
But seriously, Richard, I understand your frustration with some of the examples you cite. There are a lot of fans that wish Tito would take his players to task publicly when they loaf or do something stupid, like a Piniella would, but that's simply not his style. Any issue he has with a player, he addresses privately, and he really doesn't care what you or I think. It is maddening-and puzzling-the way some of the lesser pitchers in the league have tied up the Sox -- but I think you probably could take any of the good teams and find similar examples. The Red Sox have hit enough to rank in the top three in the league in scoring.
You certainly have cause to question Theo on both the Drew and Lugo signings---Drew's lack of production is reaching historic levels and Lugo will have Sox fans on the edge of their seats in October, dreading that he'll make an error or get picked off base with the pennant in the balance. That said, the GM still gets his due for what he's done right, not the least of which is creating a farm system that is beginning to churn out a steady stream of top prospects. As for Papi, there are plenty of teams that would gladly put up with some bellyaching for what he has delivered for the Sox since becoming a regular.
I respect your knowledge of, and passion for, the game, but while it may appear to you that some (many?) of these guys don't care, I assure you that there are plenty of guys in that clubhouse whose work ethic and commitment to winning would fit in any era.
Gordon, I know I dwell on this subject, but in my opinion the facts support my viewpoint. I can't help but believe that this Red Sox front office is still living in San Diego. Larry and Theo (Money Ball devotees) continue to draft pitchers and trade for pitchers and or defensive hitters. They hire hitting coaches that teach defensive hitting and free agents (Drew) who based on past performance are defensive hitters. With David Ortiz playing hurt and Manny showing his age, the Red Sox needed a run producer for the pennant drive, not a worn-out relief pitcher, but here we go again. Instead of upgrading an offense that loses a number of one run games, Theo's tire patch is applied to the bullpen. Frankly, Theo's work leaves a lot to be desired, it's one bad trade and or free agent signing after another. This year, Drew and Lugo (big bucks with little return), now the Gagne trade where the Sox give up a solid fourth outfielder, a respectable starting pitcher and a blue chip prospect, for a relief pitcher they really didn't want this past off-season and for good reason. Let me close with a note to Theo: As a lifelong Red Sox fan (yes I watched Ted Williams play), I don't want to see the Padres or Athletics playing in Red Sox uniforms. It would make for very boring baseball.
Anonymous, Pahrump, Nev.
A: Well, I can't say people are just second-guessing Theo on the Drew and Lugo deals. There were plenty of skeptics at the time he signed them last winter. I'm just wondering why I don't get more mail praising Theo for signing, developing and having faith in Pedroia, or identifying Papelbon as closer material, or outmaneuvering other high rollers for Matsuzaka and signing Okajima. The best a GM can do is put his team in position to make it to the postseason; after that, October is all about the team that happens to be playing best at that time. Theo has had the Sox in contention every year; last season was crippled by injuries. He tried to get a run-producer in Dye at the deadline; how many other run-producers did you see out there? Based on Gagne's performance in Texas, what the numbers said and what his scouts told him, it was not unreasonable for Theo to expect that Gagne would give this club a big boost. It hasn't worked out that way, but is that the GM's fault?
Very disappointed in Buchholz yesterday. Usually rookie pitchers with Clay's supposed potential dominate teams that never seen him before. Eigh hits in six innings is a lot. Even if he does live up to expectations, is this all we have? The Yanks are loaded with young studs they refused to part with for Gagne or Texieria.....watched some video on this young Chamberlain, and he's awesome and throws up to 100 mph. Other than Beckett, Paps, and hopefully Dice-K, although he's not as advertised, I'm very concerned about future. I keep hearing Johan Santana is signed, sealed and delivered for Opening Day Yankee Stadium. Yanks' payback for the Sox overpaying Dice-k...Geeeeez, it's hard being a Sox fan...it must be harder having to cover them over the years. Take care.
Danny Connors, Halifax
A: Danny, Yes, I agree with you that Joba Chamberlain has looked terrific, as had Phil Hughes, but I would urge you not to be so dismissive about Clay Buchholz. He did a good job in his big-league debut against a first-place team. Contrary to what you think, it's rare for a kid to dominate the first time he goes out there, and there's a reason every team interested in dealing with the Sox asked about Buchholz first. Santana's situation is an interesting one, but if the Twins decide to trade him before he becomes a free agent after 2008, Terry Ryan isn't simply going to deliver him to the Bronx; he'll cut the best deal he can. As for Daisuke, if he stays healthy he will combine with Beckett to give the Sox a strong 1-2 combo at the top of the rotation for years to come, and Buchholz, Jon Lester and Justin Masterson, among others, could make it one of the best young rotations in the game.
I just watched the Friday night debacle by Gagne and am wondering who will be the first sportswriter, coach, manager or other presumed expert to say, "you know, maybe we have a problem here. Maybe the fact that Eric the Great has pitched 7 innings and given up 10 runs actually means something." So far, every single one of you, to a man (or woman), has repeated the mantra, "great reliever, great acquisition, he'll get us into the World Series." It's like you're all saying, "the emperor's new set of clothes looks terrific." But the rest of us fans, we only see a naked guy who has now singlehandedly cost the Sox three games. Tonight he came in against a team that was playing it's third game in 24 hours, including a trip from Toronoto to Boston. But they weren't too tired to hammer the great one.
Creighton Abrams, Springfield, Va.
A: Creighton, While the tenor of the coverage when the Gagne trade was made was very positive, I don't think the media have turned a blind eye to what has happened since he got here. I think it would have been short-sighted to write him off based on the two meltdowns in Baltimore, but when he got lit up again by the Angels, obviously that raised a lot of questions about how he will perform and how he will be used. And I think the media have raised those questions. I know I have.
Man, I feel for this Gagne guy. Imagine a team brings you in - to great fanfare, at great expense, in the middle of a pennant race - and you single-handedly turn the team's greatest strength (the bullpen) into its greatest liability. The psychological pressure of that sort of situation is unimaginable, and I sure hope he finds a way to cope (for his sake and for ours). Anyways, here's my question: Theo made a big deal out of the presumed compensatory picks we'd get for losing Gagne at the end of the season; it was an important piece of the cost/benefit analysis that went into making that trade. Now, tell me if I'm wrong, but don't teams only get those compensatory draft picks if the free agent in question is one of the top players at his position? Gagne's ERA has about doubled since he got to Boston, and with not much season left, it's hard to see him bringing that ERA down all that much, even if he's lights out the rest of the way. So are we even gonna GET those draft picks?
A: Brian, that's a very good question. At the time of the deal, Gagne projected to be a Type A free agent. We'll have to see if that stands up. In the meantime, you're about the only person expressing a little compassion for the guy. He told my buddy Bill Plaschke he was heckled on his way back to his apartment after Friday's game.
Greetings from a Red Sox fan in Amish Country, Lancaster County Pa. I always look forward to reading your mailbag. My question is in regards to Eric Gagne. He has now cost the Red Sox three games; they would be seven games ahead instead of five if it were not for him. This looks like a big mistake; I did not like the trade from the first time I heard of it. Gabbard did a fine job for the Sox and I was sorry to see him go. Gagne is supposed to be a veteran player and should have been expected to give immediate results. How long do we need to suffer through this before someone wakes up and something is done? We cannot afford to "give this guy a chance" while every close game he comes into he loses. Whether people want to admit it or not folks; we ARE now in a pennent race and cannot put up with his shenanigans any longer in my opinion. Of course if he turns things around before this gets printed then you can say "I told you so".
Daniel Fox, Ephrata, Pa.
A: Well, Daniel, he hasn't turned it around yet, and Terry Francona still intends to use him in late-inning situations. If he doesn't turn it around, you'll be the one saying, "I told you so."
What does the backwards (K) mean on the scorecards.
A: Dennis, the reverse K is a scorer's designation for a strikeout that occurs on a called third strike.
Do you think there will ever come a day when those of you in the media are capable of mentioning Jon Lester's name without mentioning cancer? The last three sentences of your story about his last start say it all. I wonder how long it will be before Lester simply stops talking to you guys.
Dave, Bangor, Maine
A: Dave, the man pitches in Fenway Park for the first time in a year since he was diagnosed, the Jimmy Fund and the Lester Project are selling bracelets at the ballpark to support the JF, his teammates and manager talk about the miracle of having him back, and you don't want us to mention Jon Lester had cancer? Not to mention that the man has to go for checkups every three months to make sure he remains in remission. Gotta disagree with you on that one.
Hey Gordon, Just read your last mailbag with a good amount of people voicing their displeasure about the "Fenway Experience" and I agree with them that Fenway is past it's prime and it soon will be time for a new stadium, whenever there is land in Boston to build one. I love Fenway though and enjoy hearing my parents and grandparents' Fenway expierences. At Fenway, though, a very high fraction of fans are intoxicated at the end and cause distractions on the streets of Boston after the game. How come they can't stop selling alcohol after the fifth or sixth inning? They already make enough money selling it at $7.75 a cup.
Andrew T., East Windsor, N.J.
A: I'm amazed there are that many people willing to buy beer for $7.75 a cup.
Since when has bad behavior been limited to Sox fans or Boston? I have been to many parks, and drinking until you become an idiot and have bad personal habits seems to be very common. Since there seems to be many men who think such behavior is their "right" it won't change until the rest of us stop the sale of beer to drunks. People need to think about what is reasonable behavior and what not.
Luretta Bennett, Medford, Ore.
A: Luretta, I agree, there's a knucklehead element in every crowd-shoot -- we even had a fight in the balcony at Symphony Hall this summer! But I think there may be a greater tolerance of that in places like Fenway and Yankee Stadium than other places. Though the Sox are trying to market themselves as "fan friendly," those beer concessions are too lucrative to encourage a sea change in fan behavior.
Gordon, This really isn't a question, merely a comment on the whole Fenway is a toilet and the fans are obnoxious. For all the comments you received about "obnoxious fans" etc. spoiling the day for people. I'm sorry to come off unsympathetic but grow up! The world does not revolve solely around "your" experience of Fenway Park. What is wrong with this society today is there are too many crybabies who let what others do personally offend them. So there was a drunk idiot still zipping up his pants as he left the restroom... WHO CARES?! Perhaps these people should spend more time concentrating on the game on the field and less time on what everyone is doing or saying.
Fenway is a treat, real Sox fans know this. Just walking out of the "dungeon" and out into the field area and being bathed by the sunlight while looking at a field my dad's boyhood hero (Ted Williams by the way) played on, is enough. Would a nice sterile new park be more comfortable? I'm sure, but for my baseball purist blood I'll take Fenway over all of those cookie cutter stadiums.
As for the Orioles announcer. Since Cal left, when was the last time he had anything worthwhile to announce? Must be great to have all that comfortable room to watch his O's stink it up. I'll take watching the Sox win in "our" toilet over watching my team get pummeled every night in a beautiful park.
Lastly... It's sad if it's true what Matthews Jr. is saying.. I don't care if people heckle, but to pull race into it is foolish. It only takes one idiot to give a town a bad rep, especially because Boston hasn't historically been good in that regard.
A.J., Barkhamsted, Conn.
A: Well, A.J., I'm all for focusing on what's happening on the field, but that can be a challenge if the guy sitting a row behind you is dropping f-bombs and spilling beer all over the place. To complain about that to me doesn't make you a crybaby; given that you may have paid 85 bucks for your seat, I would think you'd be a bit silly not to demand that you be able to watch the game without someone ruining the experience for you. Maybe if more people demanded that those around them act in a more civil fashion, everyone would benefit. But you'll get no argument from me that Fenway is special in so many other ways.
To respond to the folks who think Fenway is a toilet, they can go flush. I go to Fenway for the history; when you are in the park you can't escape it. I also go to Fenway for the intimacy. There is no other park like it. Reading the negative responses illustrated the difference between the folks who go to a game for the love of it, and those who go because they can. I feel blessed everytime I have a change to visit Fenway, for me it's something sacred. Since the first time my father took me as a kid, to the game I was at last week, Fenway feels like home. These whiny folks don't get that because they don't care about it. The obnoxious fans, the drunk fans, etc., I understand. They definitely take away from the game and the Red Sox NEED to invest in the personnel to keep people in line, and to enforce the constant getting up in the middle of the game. But to change the park would destroy its soul, and obnoxious or not, that is usually all we Red Sox fans have.
Frank J., Quincy
A: Frank, well said.
There was far too much negativity regarding the Fenway is a "toilet" backlash. Fenway is a beautiful ballpark filled with tradition and history. I have every faith that as I continue to travel 3,000 miles each time to Fenway, Mr. Henry and Co. will continue to make improvements. For those readers who even dare to compare Fenway to boring cookie-cutter stadiums such as The Big A in Anaheim, they are clueless. First, it's surrounded by a huge parking lot with a view of the freeway. The faux rocks in center field are simply lame. As for other new parks, Camden Yards is nice as are Petco and Safeco as they too are easily accessible from downtown areas. I can't see how one reader states that McCourt should have bought the Sox. C'mon! He has RUINED a once beautiful Dodger Stadium through his greed. He took away huge areas of foul territory (bad for the pitchers) and raised parking prices while making the parking situation worse! The outfield walls have been plastered with ads rather than the old Dodger greats. Between innings we see movie clips on the big screen. It's just not the same. I live 20 minutes (not counting parking time) from Dodger Stadium and given half a chance to get to Boston to see the Sox, I take it over Dodger tix any day. WIth all the changes I have seen over the years at Fenway, the Henry years have proven that you can improve AND preserve. A new ballpark in Boston would raise ticket prices...I'm sure the locals would complain about that as well.
As for the unruly fans, they are everywhere. I wonder how these readers would react having to walk to their car after a Dodgers v. Giants game. Be thankful for what you have. I'll be at the Dodgers game Sunday rooting for Nomar, Lowe, hitting coach Mueller, and Grady Little.
Cari Wahlberg, Pasadena, Calif.
A: Cari, having covered the Dodgers for the L.A. Times in the '80s, I, too, have cringed at some of the changes, but I think most fans in Boston would happily pay what F. McCourt charges for parking compared to the gouging that goes on in the Fens. I also agree with you about the scenery around Anaheim -- and the faux rocks don't do it for me, either -- but overall, I wouldn't call Angel Stadium a cookie-cutter park. I really like it, actually, and in the car culture of southern California, putting a stadium at the confluence of several freeways is probably about as good as you can get it.
"But at the risk of sounding like a suckup to the current regime..." You said it, Gordon. And your comment applies not just to your apologia regarding Fenway's deplorable condition and the Sox fan's obnoxious behavior. You nearly always take management's side by undermining just criticism by the fans who write you. Must be the price of keeping the information pipeline open, huh?
Paul Pacheco, Madison, Wis.
A: Paul, I don't know if I undermine criticism as much as try to temper it. But you can't imagine how tough it is to type in this "Wally" costume. Almost as tough as it is to park Theo's car and serve Mr. Henry his dinner.
Join Gordon Edes and other Boston sportswriters at the Rock Bottom Brewery in Chicago on Aug. 25 (8-11 p.m.) for an evening of baseball to benefit the Jimmy Fund. Click here for more information.