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.
As a Manny Ramirez fan I'm getting a little sick of the bashing he takes in the media (especially ESPN). If Nixon or Tek get hurt, it's legit ... if Youkilis bolts for third on a one-hopper to the shortstop with one out, nobody says a word. But if Manny is injured or doesn't hustle, it's front-page news and worthy of a replay on ESPN Tonight, where I heard Tino Martinez bad-mouth Manny for taking his gripe about the non-hit in last week's Yankee game to the media. Who exactly did Manny complain to? As I understand it, Manny NEVER talks to the media. The other day Dan Shaughnessy wrote in his column that he asked Manny a question, to which Manny replied by smiling and putting his hand on Dan's shoulder. So, who exactly does Manny take his grievance to in order to go public? I'd looooove to know.
Doug Berlin, Jamestown, NY
A: Doug, the story that Sean McAdam wrote in the Providence Journal indicated not that Manny groused to anyone in the media, but had to be persuaded by people to play in Saturday's game after the non-hit. Terry Francona acknowledged that he had empathized with Manny about the call, but had little interest in discussing whether any cajoling had to take place. Because Manny has some history of skipping out on games for a variety of reasons, it didn't take a great leap to suspect that he may have needed some stroking to play Saturday, and because he has used the hamstring in the past as an excuse, when the hammy comes into play now there's some justifiable skepticism. Was he hurt? David Ortiz, for one, swears that he was, and when he had to come out of Wednesday's game with a sore knee, no one questioned the diagnosis of patellar tendinitis. I thought some of the criticism directed at Manny was extremely harsh, and ignored the fact that many, MANY players get upset at scorer's decisions, even in a big series. It also was overlooked in too many places that Manny reached base 17 times (!!!) in the series against the Yanks. But does he bring some of this stuff on himself? I'd have to say yes.
I was out of town, did the Sox sign their No. 1 draft choice from UNC?
George Dristiliaris, Dracut
A: George, no official announcement yet, but Bard did not attend classes at the University of North Carolina and all indications are that a deal has been struck, they're just working out final contract details and Bard has to take a physical. He should begin his pro career next month in the Instructional League in Florida.
You're very cute, Gordon ... but you've got to lose the bowling shirt. Let me think up a better look for you.
Sandi Carlson, Worcester
A: Sandi, we're open to any and all suggestions. But if I lose the shirt, I've got no shot at a part when they do the sequel to "The Big Lebowski". (P.S. Mom, didn't you promise me we'd never discuss this in public?)
Kind of an obscure question, but if Jonathan Papelbon wants to go to Japan for
the $100,000 (fair enough, considering he only makes $335,400) and the Sox don't
want him to go -- I assume to protect his arm -- why don't the Sox just give him
the $100K and tell him to stay home? Pap is happy and the $100K is worth it for the Sox to protect their investment.
Eric Abromson, Los Angeles
A: Eric, would it surprise you in the least if, after Papelbon breaks the rookie record for saves, John Henry hands him a plaque, then slips him an envelope, too, containing a check for six figures, and says, "Here, if you and your wife want to take a trip to Japan, it's on us, but leave your glove and spikes at home''? That is an obvious solution, and one I suspect may indeed come to pass.
With Dustin Pedroia up and having played both SS and 2B, what are the Sox's
plans/expectations for him next season? With both Loretta and Gonzo becoming
free agents, which spot will Diamond Dustin take over and who else could be
expected to fill the other?
Chris De Matteo, New Haven, Conn.
A: Chris, Terry Francona said this week that's one of the things they hope to get a feel for in these last six weeks, but if I were a betting man, I'd say Pedroia comes to camp competing for the second base job, with either Alex Gonzalez back or the Sox opting to go after Julio Lugo (which is my prediction).
In your article today regarding Ortiz hitting his 45th HR last night you said, "The last Sox player to hit 45 in a season? Ramírez, last season," -- what about Ortiz's 48 last year? Anyway, I've been holding out hope that the Sox could turn this around, not wanting to believe our season could be over in August, but if Manny misses significant time, I think that might be the final nail. Do you think the Sox will try to acquire another big bat this offseason? Maybe for 1st base (move Youk to third) or CF, or will Theo mainly (and
understandably so) focus on pitching. Thanks!
Kyle J Molee, Atlanta
A: Kyle, I meant it literally the last to hit 45 in a season, but I didn't do a good job of writing that. But in pointing that out to me (thank you), you also gave Papi one more homer last season than he hit. He had 47 last season, not 48. Yes, I think pitching will be the primary focus, but I could see him making a move for a bopper as well. As usual, it will be a very active offseason.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. A look at how the Red Sox lineup and rotation may have looked if Theo had left well enough alone:
Johnny Damon CF
Orlando Cabrera SS
David Ortiz DH
Manny Ramirez LF
Trot Nixon RF
Jason Varitek C
Lyle Overbay IB
Kevin Youkilis 3B
Hanley Ramirez 2B
A: Bob, interesting list, though I have one question -- if Theo left well enough alone, how the heck did the Sox get Lyle Overbay to play first base?
I lived through the 1978 collapse. Comparing it to what has happened in '06 is strictly apples and oranges. I agree with you that no one could have predicted some of the things that have happened in the past six weeks. Also, it's not all Theo's fault. All the Jamesian/"Moneyball" analysis in the world cannot predict injuries. In all of this, I am surprised that no one has mentioned the loss of Tim Wakefield. As you know, I'm a huge Wake fan from waayyy back, and I can't help but think that the loss of a pitcher who can go out every five days and give a solid (but not spectacular) performance hurts big time as well. And one question for you to ask Barry Zito when you arrive next week in Oakland: It seems to me that it was more than coincidence that he cut his hair short the day after he signed with Scott (The Unprintable Epithet) Boras. Talk about an act that screams, "sign me, Mr. Steinbrenner!"
Annie Russell, San Francisco
A: Annie, I know it's sometimes hard to track all things said and written about the Sox, especially from the Left Coast, but allow me to cite a Gordon Edes story from August 8:
"Tim Wakefield turned 40 last week, an occasion that received less fanfare than it should have because the knuckleballer is on the disabled list.
But if there was ever a time to make the case that Wakefield remains as valuable as ever to the Sox, even if it won't be that much longer before he's more concerned with AARP than ERA, it is now, with the Sox pitching staff collectively going through its roughest stretch of the season.
On July 21, the Sox hit five home runs in a 9-4 win over the Mariners in Seattle to open a 3 1/2-game lead over the Yankees in the American League East. The next day would have been Wakefield's regularly scheduled start, but he'd been placed on the DL. The Sox started a marginal prospect named Kason Gabbard that day, and while he pitched better than anyone had the right to expect, the Sox lost that afternoon and the next day as a well, the start of a stretch in which they've gone 6-9 to fall two games behind the Yankees in the division. They also are a half-game behind the White Sox in the wild-card race (pending the outcome of last night's White Sox-Angels game, tied with the surging Twins.
While the bullpen has been receiving end of a good deal of heat in the aftermath of back-to-back shaky efforts in consecutive losses to the Devil Rays last weekend, Sox starters have also struggled .That has had a ripple effect on a pen that is showing the strain of such a heavy workload.
And that's where Wakefield comes in. Last season, Wakefield went seven innings or more in 19 of his 33 starts. Wakefield was on a similar pace this season, going seven or more innings in 7 of his first 13 starts until mid-June, which is when he said he first began experiencing pain. In his last six starts prior to going on the DL, Wakefield failed to go seven innings once, which also has added to the pen wearing down.''
So, yes, some of us have taken notice of Wakefield's value as a staff saver, and why it should make a major difference when he returns to the Sox rotation, perhaps by next Friday.
And that's a very interesting observation about Zito. I may take your advice and pop that question.
Has Matt Clement fallen into a black hole? Is he still in rehab for a sore shoulder or is something else going on here? I do not see him in the rotation next year at all.
Jan Ouellette, Ashby
A: Jan, the Sox have essentially given up on Matt returning this season. It's a very odd circumstance, but it's been over two months since he pitched in a big-league game, he's not throwing much now, and the shoulder strain evidently has not responded to treatment. The Sox shopped him last year and will shop him again this winter, though I doubt any team would make a pitch for him until they see him throw next spring.
Gordon, At what point will we be able to determine if the Sox management is a great evaluator of talent (majors and minors) -- they have been in place for four years now? I have been able to see the Orioles prospects begin to show results after about 3-4 years (see Markakis, Bedard, Ray, Loewen, et al). At this point they seem to have more promise than the Sox rookies, although they do have the benefit of playing in a less intense environment.
Charm City Sox Fan, Baltimore
A: CCSox fan, I think you make valid points ... Leo Mazzone looks like he may finally be getting to some of those kid pitchers, and Markakis' 3-HR game this week gave O's fans a bright spot in an otherwise cheerless season. I do think, however, that the Sox pipeline is also producing talent -- a spectacular season by Papelbon, a 5-0 debut by Lester, glimpses of promise from Craig Hansen and Manny Delcarmen, the arrival of Pedroia. That's a lot of new talent in one season, especially on a pennant contender. But how that talent will match up against the O's or say the Yanks -- Chien-Ming Wang, Cano, Robinson Cano --still remains to be seen. But I'd say they're headed in the right direction.
Gordo, Globe sports writers are like Sox left fielders and FWIW I think you stack right up there with the best of them. Why is everyone saying they should have gone after Bobby Abreu, didn't he only waive his no trade for one team? Eliminating no trades clauses but for 10/5's would do more for competitive balance than rev., sharing IMHO. If I could have one guy right now for the stretch run it'd be Alfonso Soriano, pitching is obviously too expensive and he adds that missing dimension of putting pressure on the other team ... any chance? Crazy thought this week, can Pedroia catch the knuckleball?
George Hill, Manchester, Conn.
A: George, thanks for what sounds like a great compliment, although if I'm Manny, shouldn't I be ducking into the scoreboard once in a while? George, Abreu made his big-league debut in 1996, but he's not a 10-5 guy. His service time coming into this season was 8 years and 165 days. A 10-5 guy, for those who might not know, refers to players who have 10 years in the big leagues and at least 5 with his current team, which gives a player the right to veto any trade going forward. Perhaps you're thinking of Andruw Jones, who just became a 10-5 man. Soriano would have been a great bat to have, but Nats GM Jim Bowden was asking for the world for a player who is eligible for free agency this winter. And yeah, at least you know a crazy idea when you think of one!
I'll be the last person to give up on the Sox this season, even as things are gloomy, I've seen them come back from worst ... or have I? I'm hoping you can break down the stats on what they need for wins, losses the rest of the way to make a go at the division. Does the E# 32 mean that If the Yankees win 32 games, the Red Sox can't make it? With 39 left to play (for the Yanks, 38 for the Sox), does that mean that the Yankees must lose 7 games, and if the Yanks lose any more, the Sox can match them loss for loss?
Jeff Cassin, Brooklyn, NY
A: Jeff, here's a good way to look at it: Going into this weekend's series against Seattle, the Sox are 5 ½ games behind the Bombers, who have a record of 76-50 with 36 games to play. The Sox are 71-56, with 35 left. If the Yanks split their final games, going 18-18, they will finish with a record of 94-68. In order to beat that, the Sox would have to go 24-11, a .686 winning percentage and a pretty tall order. To beat out the White Sox for the wild card -- Chicago has a 75-52 record -- if the White Sox go 18-17 the rest of the way, the Sox would have to go 23-12. And there are also the Twins to worry about in the wild card, too.
Hi Gordon, to what extent do the problems we're seeing with this team right now trace back to the front-office turmoil of the offseason? Granted, injuries and other misfortunes have multiplied of late, but these problems have also, I think, served to highlight deeper issues in the way this team, especially the bullpen, was constructed. Even if Theo did in fact sign off on most of the moves that were made, how much did the chaos and confusion cloud judgments and interfere with effective communication among the brass? One bright spot in these dog days: It's been fun having you writing some of the
game recaps again. You are just a terrific baseball writer -- thanks.
Doug Reichert Powell, Oak Park, Ill.
A: Doug, will we ever know the full impact of this oddest of offseasons? I don't know, but having that much uncertainty and unsettledness can never be a good thing. I also wonder about the fact that unless it happened recently, or people are being disingenuous, that Theo has yet to sign his contract with the club. What if he decides that he hates the incursion upon his privacy, especially as it pertains to his determination to protect his relationship with his fiancée? What if there's still a degree of tension in the front office that he can't abide? I'm not sure if the last chapter of this tale has been told. I do, however, appreciate your kind words about my gamers. There is a school of thought out there that people don't read gamers anymore.
Why is everybody so quick to jump on the anti-Coco Crisp bandwagon (see
Verducci on SI.com especially)? Perhaps he isn't Johnny Damon right now, but he was
injured and I am still suitably impressed by many of the plays he makes in center field. I think that his bat will come around. I, for one, hope that he is around next year.
BT Covey, Madison, Wis.
A: BT, Theo has shown a willingness to part with players, even his own acquisitions, who have underachieved, like Edgar Renteria, so it will be interesting to see if he will be as patient with Coco as you are willing to be. I definitely feel Theo will look at other CF options, and that Coco, because of cost certainty and his relatively modest price, may be shopped around.
Gordo, love the mailbag. This is my question: How do the Red Sox and Theo Epstein rationalize starting the season (and continuing for the duration) without a lefthanded reliever in the bullpen? I would like to know how many World Series champions in the last few years have been absent a lefty. The Red Sox play the Yankees and their lefty stacked lineup 19 times in the regular season. Going to battle without one southpaw is completely baffling and indefensible. Mike Myers was cut loose because he could only pitch to one batter at a time-but weren't those important batters? Now we have Myers striking out Big Papi while Damon and Abreu run like madmen around the Fenway bases. Sure we have Javier Lopez -- enough said. Essentially, Theo/his minions traded Andy Marte, Cla Meredith, Kelly Shoppach, David Riske, Guillermo Mota, and Josh Bard for Javier Lopez, Doug Mirabelli, and Crisp -- who by the way is making Renteria's efforts last year look like an MVP season. I've recently been comparing Theo to Samuel Jackson. Sammy boy had "Pulp Fiction" (Theo in 2004) and he's basically had a free pass for the last decade of slop he's been involved with onscreen. Now it's 2006 and we have the Boston Massacre II and "Snakes on a Plane". Justin Picone, Denver, Colo.
A: Justin, where else but the 'Bag are you going to find a Theo/Samuel Jackson comparison, or "Snakes on a Plane" tied to the Yankee debacle? (although, I have to admit, the folks who do the Rally Monkey bits at Angel Stadium did a very funny spoof with 'Monkeys on a Plane' the other night). I went back to 1985, and gave up checking; all of the World Series winners since that time had at least one lefty in their pen. If you recall, the Sox started the season with Keith Foulke as the guy they thought would get lefties out, which more or less worked for about month before Foulke went south, then got hurt. Lefties are now hitting .324 against him. They obviously haven't been happy with the lefties they've auditioned since, and clearly think Craig Breslow falls short, despite his good work in the pen for Pawtucket.