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.
Gordon, It would be interesting to get your take on exactly what J.D. Drew would have to do moving forward to turn around the hearts of the fans. I think the 8th inning double play tonight was maybe the ultra low point. It was for me. I am stunned at myself as I write this. When he grounded into that, I spontaneously screamed at the television in anger, unloading some very blue language - which freaked out my family (kids 12, 16 and 19) because I have never done that before. I am a third generation Sox lifer and I am over 50 years old and I have never before snapped out at any Sox player that way - ever. If he finally got me to crack, I can't imagine what is up with some of the less inhibited faithful who have little problem voicing their feelings. I had to explain to the family that I often think stuff like what I blurted out and I apologized for letting it get out. Even that isn't true, as I can't even remember being that mad at a player in my thoughts, either. But I had to say something, you know? I am embarrassed, but I also feel strangely liberated. I feel sorry for Drew, but it was too much after watching him whiff and fail so much in the clutch. I hope he can turn it around. Do you think he can?
A: John, I think all it would take is a few big games (one big game?) by Drew, but I think that the mounting pressure has taken its toll, and it is really an open question of whether he can fight his way through this. The calls for Tito to play Ellsbury instead of Drew are going to mount tremendously when Manny comes back, probably sometime next week, and only the team's continued success has spared JD the full wrath of the fans' fury---which can be pretty scary, as you vividly describe. Despite everyone's denials that there is an injury involved, it's hard to accept that his performance could drop off this drastically without him being hurt. Larry Lucchino was right the other day when he said J.D. could still salvage his season with a strong finish, but I am already anticipating the pressure that will be on him when camp opens next spring.
Hey Gordon, do you think its worthwhile to bat Youk after Drew all the time? That way the boos would be confused with the 'yooooks' and we wouldn't hurt J.D.'s $70m feelings. Seriously though, Manny, Crisp and Ellsbury looks like an ideal post-season outfield to me, what do you think?
Phil Reed, Wellington, NZ
A: Phil, I believe Jacoby will be on the postseason roster, but let's see what happens in the last three weeks before we anoint him a starter over J.D. in October.
Hi Gordo, Love your column and your mailbag. Given J.D. Drew's abysmal performance this year, I'm always amazed at the news conferences at the end of the Red Sox games, where you sportswriters seem scared to death to ask Terry Francona anything about Drew's performance. Are you afraid to raise this subject? Been told not to? Are questions about Drew's performance off-the-record given his contract? I know you've written columns about him, but Red Sox management HAS to be aware of how bad he's been this year. Why is he still in the lineup? Maybe an off-the-record converstaion in an underground parking garage with Charles Steinberg is in order.
The Great White Shank, Gilbert, Ariz.
A: GWS, Drew is not off-limits. Tito has been asked often about him, both before and after games. He is as dismayed as the fans are at the lack of production, but he also has to play the hand he's dealt with, and right now, he has a right fielder to whom the Red Sox have committed four more years after this one. He's not going to bury JD, he's not going to join in the chorus of JD bashers, he would be abdicating his responsibility as a manager to do so. The Sox cushion in the East has given him the luxury to keep letting JD try to play his way out of this, but come October, the long view takes a backseat to the short term, which will be about winning a World Series, and I assure you Tito's decisions will be based solely on how to accomplish that goal.
I'm willing to bet that when Theo Epstein retires, the laughable J.D. Drew signing will be regarded as the worst deal of his career. Your thoughts?
Dave, Bangor, Maine
A: Dave, did you expect Edgar Renteria to become the player he has been with the Braves after a miserable year with the Sox? I think we have to play this out a little longer.
The question is not how can the Red Sox afford Mike Lowell, as the Red Sox front office has framed it. The question is how can the Red Sox afford to lose Mike Lowell? Red Sox fans cannot afford to have this debate framed backwards. Without Lowell you have no number five hitter to face baseball's (AL )toughest pitching, you do not have the best defensive third baseman in baseball (arguably), and you lose a wise veteran who is an undoubted leader in the clubhouse and on the playing field. How can you replace Mike Lowell's tangible and intangible value to this team? The answer is you can't. So letting Lowell walk will mean that the Red Sox must overpay for a mediocre third baseman with the hope he can hit better than JD Drew, because there is absolutely no one available who can hit and produce like Lowell. And that will mean another 2006 campaignin 2008 except we'll have a leadoff hitter but no number five hitter.(The pitching staff will be overjoyed to hear that I'm sure.) So what's the cost of mediocrity nowadays? I'd say it's in the ballpark of $14 million a year for four years. I bet you a dollar that Mike Lowell would jump on that offer if it came his way because what he wants is a relatively fair contract and a spot on a team that has a legitimate opportunity to win it all. Like the Red Sox.
A: Tim, I think the encouraging aspect of my report on Lowell's contract status with the Sox is 1, that the Sox expressed a great interest in re-signing him, and 2, that Lowell said he might forego testing the market if the Sox make what he and his agents consider a fair-market offer. Both Mike and the Sox say that the team has maintained communication with his agents, and I get the sense that both sides are motivated to get something done. But if Mike intends to accept nothing less than a four-year deal, that might be a deal-breaker. Then again, as you note, the market has changed, and with the cast of desirable FA limited this winter, the Sox may relent. But remember, two years from now, Miguel Cabrera will be eligible for FA, the kind of thing the Sox take into consideration.
Great to be writing about a team that really IS of legendary stuff. It's amazing that these things keep happening. Maybe we're even glimpsing Fisk/Tiant again when we watch Buchholz throw to Cash. And isn't Coco something?!!! May Manny and Papi remain in the fight.
Steven R. Lazar
A: Steven, Got a note from Jim Palmer this morning saying he thought Buchholz's stuff was even better last night than it was in the no-hitter, which is saying a lot. The Buchholz saga has taken the story line of a terrific season to another level.
A couple representative e-mails on the pros/cons of writing about Clay Buchholz's past:
I've got a media-related question. Why do your fellow Boston media members feel the need to repeatedly report that Buchholz was arrested for stealing laptops? How is it relevant to anything? I'm not saying you have been doing this, from what I've read, you havent, but you make yourself available for questions so I'll ask you. Would the members of the media like it if all their teenage indiscretions were made public knowledge? Everyone does stuff they aren't proud of in their youth, stupid stuff, it shouldn't' be part of the Clay Buchholz story everytime one is written. I feel bad for him, I don't think it's fair at all.
Just reading the mailbag and realized I'd never sent off the note I meant to send after hearing that an acquaintance (one of the folks you quoted, I believe) had fired off a scathing note about your reference to the laptop incident. I thought the mention was not at all out of line, and I thought Amalie had handled it very well in her piece the day he made his Fenway debut (and yes, I did write and tell her so!). It's a relevant part of his history, both in the sequence of events that brought him to the Sox and in his own personal development. Life works at its best when we learn from our mistakes. Yeah, I don't mention it if I can avoid it when I talk or write about him--but he'd better be secure in his own heart now, because I don't have much trouble imagining what kind of crap he's going to get when he pitches in Yankee Stadium. What stayed with me from Amalie's piece was the quote from his father: "He broke a lot of hearts that day." He's already come through a situation a lot worse than giving up six earned runs and getting pulled in the third--he hurt and disappointed people who loved him, not to mention himself. The fact that he had to accept and atone for that--and that he did--speaks volumes about this young man to me. I was thrilled that I could be there for his Fenway debut; I'm still speechless and elated that I could be there last Saturday. Anyway, in case you got more criticism than support--here's a belated vote in your favor!
A: Kelly, Pat: Thanks for weighing in on the issue. I think when the national media turn their attention to Clay, his past arrest will be brought up, and that's never fun, and Kelly, you're right, I wouldn't enjoy being subjected to that kind of scrutiny, but I think it is within Clay's power to turn it into a positive, which by his going forward to become a player the organization has applauded not only for his play but for his character, he already has.
I've been too shy up till now to say anything, but I think I've been way overused this year. What do you think?
Hideki Okajima, Boston
A: Hideki, I think that when November rolls around, you, the wife and kiddies should plan on taking a nice, long vacation. You deserve one. People forget, but when this spring began, the Sox were counting on J.C. Romero and you to share the lefty responsibilities out of the pen, and no one imagined you'd become the go-to guy in the eighth inning. You've had a great success, but I know it's been a taxing one. Hope you kept something in reserve for the next seven weeks!
What is the rule for players eligible for the playoff roster? Is there some rule that state if a player is on the DL as of 9/1 you are allowed a roster exemption and can add any other player to the playoff roster so long as he is on the 40-man roster.
Patrick Flynn, Hadley
A: Amalie had this on the blog the other day, I tried to get this in the paper and eveidently it got cut out, I'll try again here in the 'Bag:
Brian O'Halloran, the Sox director of baseball operations, explained the change in eligibility requirements for teams when setting their postseason rosters.
"The position-player-for-position-player / pitcher-for-pitcher requirement is indeed now gone for substitutions prior to a series," O'Halloran wrote in an e-mail. "However, teams now are allowed to substitute for an injured player during a series. Such in-series substitutions are position-player-for-position-player / pitcher-for-pitcher, and the injured player cannot be active for the remainder of that series or the next series. Those substitutions also require MLB approval. The way substitutions (before a series) work in general is as follows: each team's initial pool of eligible players is the 25 players on its active roster at midnight on 8/31 plus any players on the 15-day DL, 60-day DL, suspended list, bereavement list, etc. So we have 28 players in this pool (25 plus Brendan Donnelly, Matt Clement, and Doug Mirabelli, all of whom were on the DL on 8/31). Any player in a team's pool who is injured when a given series begins can be substituted for. So if Mirabelli is healthy at that time he will not be eligible to be substituted for, as an example. But if any player of the 28 eligible guys is hurt at the beginning of a series, we could substitute for him. For example, with Donnelly being out for the year, we can substitute any player who was in our organization on Aug. 31 for Brendan. This substitute could be a pitcher or position player, and does not necessarily have to have been a September callup."
I don't understand how you can call the Buchholz story a "triumph over adversity." Now the young man may have changed his ways since his crime, and I think it was tasteless to highlight his past in your story about his no-hitter, but to triumph over adversity means to overcome something that happens to you. A theft isn't something that happens to the thief, but to the victim.
Michael Kriskey, Stamford, Conn.
A: Michael, my dictionary defines adversity as "a state, condition, or instance of serious or continued difficulty or adverse fortune, or "an adverse or unfortunate event or circumstance." I think getting busted for stealing laptops is an example of "serious or continued difficulty" or "an unfortunate event.'' Was it adversity of his own making? No doubt, but adversity nonetheless.
Hey Gordon - I thought I would take a break from the "Red Sox what's wrong" bandwagon to ask you a few questions about what it's like to be a sports writer for this crazy town of wanna-be coaches and skeptics? In this day and age of reporter turned ESPN celebrity, how much has that influenced how newspaper reporters cover teams in major markets? Do you find that today's sports reporters are more aggressive and critical than years past because they have one eye on their big break to TV that translates into more fame and fortune and has that negatively impacted their reporting skills and their relationship with professional athletes?
Steve Healey, Chicago, Ill.
A: Steve, I think there are sportswriters who deliberately provoke or outspoken, but they existed even before they were presented an additional electronic forum to present their views. But do I think the voices have become shriller and more caustic in this electronic age? Absolutely. Do I think some of it comes with an eye to self-promotion? Again, it's not hard to find support for that position.
Gordon, can you remember a class of September call-ups that has had such an immediate and exciting impact as this year's has? I definitely can't.
Kevin, Dallas, Texas
A: Kevin, I can't. You think about the impact Francisco Rodriguez had on the '02 Angels, or Fernando Valenzuela on the '80 Dodgers, but beyond that, to have Buchholz and Ellsbury do what they've done eclipses anything in my experience.
I have noticed all year that the Red Sox don't seem to get the big hit with the bases loaded and less that two outs. Could you tell me what the team BA is in this situation this year.
Kevin Redden, Las Vegas, Nev.
A: Kevin, I can't give it to you by outs, but the Sox rank first in the majors with a .327 BA with the bases loaded, and have scored more runs (166) than any other team. The MLB average with the bases loaded, BTW, is .294, .313 in the AL, so the hitter obviously has a great advantage over the pitcher in those situations.
What's going on with Baltimore? What's the deal with the Black Sox uniforms [Thursday night]?
A: Kim, they were honoring a team from the Negro Leagues, the Baltimore Black Sox, who played in the '30s.