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.
Thanks for doing the mailbag. I'm still a Coco Crisp fan and
hope he does not get hounded out of town. Let's remember he hit and fielded
well for a playoff contender in 2005, and had a strong second half in 2004. I've got
to think the hand injury messed him up this year. I think a bit of patience is
due. My only concern is his reaction to pressure -- I think he is pressing, as
evidenced by his defense (dives that turn singles into triples). I could live
with a trade, but let's not think replacing him is high on the to-do list.
Jon Averback, Washington, DC
Jon, the Coco Crisp fan club isnt exactly overwhelmed by applicants these days. By any measurement, Coco has been a disappointment, and some of the numbers call into question whether patience is warranted. Cocos leadoff OBP is .284, the worst in the American League and 110 percentage points lower than Kevin Youkilis (.394). Only two Pirates, Chris Duffy (.277) and Nate McLouth (.281) have a lower leadoff OBP in the big leagues (Former Sox OF Dave Roberts, incidentally, leads the NL in leadoff OBP at .380). Since July 1, Coco has scored just 25 runs in 55 games and walked 18 times in 237 appearances; he has hardly been a disruptive force in the lineup. You may be right some allowances should be made for an adjustment period, and certainly for the injury, but I would not be shocked at all if Theo tries to move him.
With all the ballyhoo when the Red Sox re-acquired Doug Mirabelli, this trade may
not look great in the rearview mirror. People forget we traded the only
legitimate catcher in the system, Kelly Shoppach, in the deal to get Bard so
that when Varitek went down there was nothing in reserve. Bard is much younger
than Mirabelli and can hit. Granted he CLEARLY struggled catching the knuckler,
but in two years Wakefield will be retired and Bard will be an everyday catcher in
San Diego. And can you explain to me why we had to throw Cla Meredith into the
deal? Not that it looked like much at the time ( he was struggling since his ill
fated debut with the Sox last year) but he has been lights out in the SD
bullpen, which is a lot more than I can say about anyone the Sox have brought up
to plug the holes in the bullpen. Looks like Theo got taken to the cleaners on
this one! Keep up the good work.
Joe Gill, Hopewell N.J.
Joe, You lay out the scenario for why Theo acquired Bard in the first place, and was willing to cut ties with Mirabelli to get Loretta, but it just didnt work out. Remember, there were three backup catchers competing for a job when camp started, and I honestly think the Sox were planning on John Flaherty winning the job, with Bard and Huckaby then in reserve in Pawtucket, or dealt. But Flaherty decided to retire rather than deal with Wakes knuckler, Huckaby hurt his knee, and Bard came undone trying to catch Wake. So the Sox had little choice but to bring Mirabelli back, and his value to the club would be more apparent if Wake hadnt gotten hurt. And who thought Bard would have the kind of year hes having in SD? Certainly his previous team, the Indians, didnt. They gave him just 83 at-bats in 05, and he hit .193. I wouldnt get too carried away on the Bard-as-everyday-player projection, either. Hes hitting .324 this season, but its been strictly in a shared situation with Piazza, and hes come back to earth in August (.239, 11 for 46). Theo is attempting to address the shortage of catchers in the system with the Wells trade. Im pretty certain the player to be named later in the deal is a left-handed hitting catcher, George Kottaras, who was the Padres No. 2 prospect as rated by Baseball America. Cla Meredith? I suspect Theo is still kicking himself for bringing the kid up when he wasnt ready a year ago.
Love the mailbag. I am a little confused about the David Wells trade. If there is such a market for Wells' services, why didn't any of these teams take him when the Red Sox waived him. It seems as though they would have all saved a prospect?
Confused, theres a relatively simple answer. If a team had claimed Wells earlier in August, when the Sox were still in contention, the Sox simply would have pulled him back. Once Wells cleared waivers, then the Sox were free to trade him, which they did after the disastrous last couple of weeks. Im not so sure Theo would have made the deal if the Sox hadnt lost the last six in Seattle and Oakland; even splitting those games, there would have been a little hope left.
While everyone, including me, is concerned about the pitching, I am a
little troubled about the lack of hitting depth on this team. I dont think it
is the linup of a few years ago when we had a batting champion in Mueller
hitting 8th or 9th. There wasn;t an easy out in the lineup. Now, there isn't much
past Manny and Ortiz, and they are hurt right now. For next year, I do believe
Coco will be better because he will be able to swing the bat (he hasnt been able
to swing it clean because of his finger), Manny and Ortiz will drive in runs, but
what else? I think Wily Mo could fill the #5 hole void with his power, but I
dont know what else there is. Lowell is average. Pedroia, the second baseman next year
most likely, will be a decent #2 hitter, but he wont hit .330. The Sox in my
mind have to sign Lugo to play short. As much as I hate to say it, I am not
sure how much longer Varitek can be a productive hitter for. What do you think
Dan Sullivan, Andover
Dan, I do believe they will target Lugo, but perhaps were all wrong just to assume it will be to replace Alex Gonzalez, who has played the best everyday defense any of us has ever seen in Boston (it would have been fun, though, to see a healthy Pokey for a full year) and has offered more offensively than many thought he would do. Lugo, on the other hand, would be a force offensively, but hes in the lower echelon of shortstops defensively. Perhaps the Sox keep Gonzalez and sign Lugo, either to play second base or serve in the Tony Phillips utility role he has adapted to in L.A., and quite nicely. I do think were going to see a bunch of new faces; its going to be an interesting offseason (arent they all?), but I think pitching, as always, will remain a priority.
Not counting the low salary players like Lester, DiNardo, Adam Stern
the core players who are injured Manny, Ortiz, Varitek, Gonzalez, Nixon, Pena,
Clement and Wakefield account for more than 1/2 ($64.8 million) the Red Sox payroll
this season($124 million). Simply amazing in a bad way.
Pete Thome, Tampa Fla.
Pete, Im sure the new training staff headed by Paul Lessard is not happy about that, nor the guys who sign the paychecks. Thats a lot of dough to be spending for spectators.
First off, I want to thank you for your coverage of all things Sox. This is my
first year being away from Boston and I miss seeing the Red Sox play on a
regular basis, so I've used you and your colleagues' writing to keep me in touch
with things back home. As far as my question, with the David Wells to Padres deal complete, why
didn't the front office pursue something with the Mets? The Mets seem to be the
only team that has a real chance of beating the AL representative in the World
Series. If the AL rep is the Yankees, wouldn't Wells to the Mets aid in keeping
the Yankees from another title? Would the front office not play that childish
game? Plus Wells would be pitching in NY again, so it might work for him as
well. Of course anything can happen in October, so who am I to say what teams
will be there in the end?
Andrew K., Wellington, NZ
Andrew, nice to hear from a Boston expatriate and temporary kiwi. I have no doubts that the Mets at least had a conversation with the Red Sox, but with the Mets having Pedro, Glavine, Trachsel and El Duque, I suspect they decided that giving up a prospect for Boomer wasnt a price worth paying. The Dodgers would have loved to have had Wells, but refused to part with the quality prospect the Sox were seeking in return. And no, I dont think deciding to trade Wells to the team with the best chance of beating the Yanks in October ever entered the equation. I certainly wouldnt assume the Yanks are going to get to the last round.
I watched a game today where the Red Sox fielded a team with only 2
position players who started on Opening Day, and only one of whom was playing
the same position. How much influence do you attribute to the banning of
amphetamines on the Red Sox devastating injury situation during the 2nd half? I
can't remember the last time it was this bad.
E. Michael McCarthy, Arlington Va.
Mike, I think the fans were the ones popping all the greenies trying to stay awake, first for the marathon Yankee series followed by a West Coast trip and all those 10 oclock starts. In all seriousness, I dont see how torn knee cartilage, a cracked rib, a strained biceps muscle, a broken finger, a swollen patella tendon, can be blamed on amphetamine use. I dont view these injuries as caused by fatigue, and Im not sure why you would conclude that, either.
Holding down my title of "Biggest Red Sox Fan in West
Virginia." I was wondering how much the Sox regret including Anibal Sanchez in
the Beckett deal? Seems he would have been able to help out this year, and
certainly down the road. I know hindsight is 20/20, but this is the player I
most regret losing in the offseason. Did the front office think he'd be ready
for the Major Leagues this soon?
Chris Richardson, Morgantown, W. Va.
Chris, does your title refer to your size or your passion, and does it take more than two hands to count the number of Sox fans in West Virginia? Anibal Sanchez would not have started this season in the big leagues for the Sox; heck, he didnt start in the big leagues for the Marlins, who brought him up in the end of June. The Sox knew Sanchez was a good prospect, but I think Theo will still make this deal for the chance to acquire a 25-year-old with Becketts stuff. Beckett has pitched better of late, and I still think hes going to be a staff leader.
One thing that is driving me crazy about this management team in Boston is their
refusal to be flexible on signing their free agents. Specifically they have
allowed both Pedro and Damon to walk because they didn't want to offer them the four
years. Here's my issue with that philosophy. Let's say hypothetically that
both Pedro and Damon can't even play in the fourth year. Do you think the Mets or
Yankees will feel completely cheated as long as they get three productive years out
of them ? To watch what both these guys have done and will continue to do for
the next few years in another uniform is frustrating. It's been two years now
since Pedro left, and have the Sox even come close to getting a pitcher of his
quality ? Will they replace Damon's production ? Why do they get caught up in
fighting over that fourth year when the benefits of the first three years are so high?
Leo Tribulic, Revere
Leo, just to correct your opening statement: They did offer Damon four years -- 4 X $10 million. His agent, Scott Boras, told them he had a five year deal in place, so the Sox were surprised when JD signed a 4 X $13 million deal with the Bombers. Pedro has been on the DL twice already this season for the Mets, who had the luxury of letting him heal because of their huge lead in the NL East. Pedro has been tremendous for the Mets; would he continued to have been equally successful in the hitter-happy AL, and for how many years -- one, two, three or four? The Sox were willing to go three, but not four. Maybe youll feel better this winter, depending on whether the Sox add a Zito or Jason Schmidt.
It seems to me that a better defense of Manny can be mounted than any of you sportswriters has seen fit to do.
To me, he had definitely put more effort into this season--in the field and at bat. He, had, for example, played a lot of games, including every inning of that 19-inning travesty, when the bullpen kept blowing leads, in Chicago before the All-Star break.
His undoing was the incredibly grueling 5 games in 4 days against the Yankees, the first four of which averaged 4 hours and 10 minutes (ridiculous!), thanks to the Sox' horrendous pitching staff.
Torre had five different guys (Giambi, Abreu, Damon, Rodriguez, and Jeter, yes, Jeter) DH in those five games, but Francona felt compelled to put Ortiz in there for all 5. Thus the Yankees' stars entered game five and the subsequent road trip less exhausted than the Sox' stars (most notably, Manny).
My take is that the Sox were hurting, badly, by the end of game four, and none more than Manny, who had said all season long his knee bothers him. Most of you guys insisted this was just "Manny being Manny." When he asked out after being walked twice in game five because Torre knew that, while Manny had Ortiz's back in the line-up, no one had Manny's, the infamous Boston sportswriting corps decided to attack Manny.
I think Manny's complaint about the official's "error" call in game two was as much frustration with both games that day as with the official. Remember, on Friday they started at 1 p.m. and finished at 1:30 a.m. and knew that Saturday they would play a day game after a day-night double-header.
Worse, the first Friday game was a slaughter and the second game another travesty by the bullpen, who gave up a touchdown in the 7th inning after the bats gave the Sox a 10-7 lead. On national TV, against the "evil empire." If Manny wasn't feeling a ton of frustration, he was not paying attention. Manny has a lot more pride than you people give him credit for, and it's pride that leads to the frustration.
Given the memory of going to the playoffs the last three years, given the departures
of so many from the 2004 World Series winners, given the replacement of five
starters (CF plus the entire infield) from last year, given the complete
collapse of the pitching staff, starters and relievers alike, except for Curt
and Pap, given Theo's bonehead decision to get Mirabelli back when Bard (much
younger and apparently a much better hitter) would have been a much better
long-term solution to backing up Varitek, and given the agony of those five
infamous games in August, I wonder that anyone wants to play hard for this team,
especially this management team (Epstein and Lucchino included).
Creighton Abrams, Springfield, Va.
Creighton, usually we vote for brevity around here, but in this case, I figure you deserve a full hearing (well, almost full. I had to whack a few grafs, but I trust I was true to the spirit of your letter. Let me respond not with a sportswriter's point of view, but by sharing Mike Lowells thoughts with you during this recent collapse. I dont think this stuff has gotten in the paper yet. Heres Lowell:
I've never seen anything like this happen to so many key guys. You're talking about the middle of the lineup, our 3,4,5,6 guys are out. Can we win games? Sure, but it'll be hard. I've never seen this many injuries to so many significant pieces of the puzzle. There have been bad stretches where people don't play well, but this is more of an obstacle. It's like you're crossing your fingers all day to hear that it's not something else. I can't explain. It's not like guys don't want to play. The guys are still going out there.(Are you sure of that, especially with Manny) Since this is my first year of playing with Manny, I don't know how things were dealt with. He's obviously a different personality and I have to give him the benefit of the doubt because we ran him out there every day and he played every day. So if he says he can't play, I gotta believe he can't play." (But other guys who were hurt sucked it up and played) That's why I don't know if it's a matter of that with him. If I don't see him in the lineup, I figure he can't play. That's more of a trainer thing, a Tito thing. I'm sure they've talked to him and I don't think it's my place to ask about it, either." (But you have a lot at stake here) Our whole team had a lot at stake, and we're a better team with him in the lineup than without him in it, but like I said I gotta believe him right now. I can't say that he is doing anything otherwise."