A valuable Tribe
Boston Globe baseball writer Gordon Edes check in every Thursday or Friday with his take on the Red Sox. Ask your question now, and come back next week to see if it was answered.
Big Papi or ARod for MVP? Why can't a DH be MVP? Sure, ARod plays a great third base but whom would you rather have in the clubhouse. Ortiz is my MVP...The Sun Sent. just hasn't been the same.
Bob Pearson, Delray Bch, FL
A: Bob, your list is a bit on the short side, isn't it? Besides David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez, I think you could certainly inject Johnny Damon and Vladi Guerrero into any MVP debate, and the way the Indians are playing, maybe we'd better start thinking of throwing Jhonny Peralta's name in the mix as well, or perhaps Grady Sizemore. As you probably know, a DH has never won the MVP award. Don Baylor, the 1979 MVP, played more games at DH than any other MVP winner, but still played a majority of games at first base. Ortiz might break that shutout with his succession of big hits, but will have to overcome a bias against players that only play one facet of the game, although pitchers have won, why shouldn't a DH? Thanks for the good word about one of my former employers, the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, where I worked five years (1991-96) just before coming to the Globe. I had a great time covering the Marlins, but I think my successor there, Mike Berardino, does a real nice job of covering baseball.
Wow ... was that the real Curt Schilling today or what?! How do you think this will affect his confidence? Is he a No. 1 starter again?
A: Steve, he sure looked like a No. 1, didn't he, against the Yankees? The live fastball was back, and so was the swagger. Schilling insists he is not impeded physically from pitching like the Schilling of yore; if he can put together similar efforts in his last three or four starts, you'd have to assume he'll reclaim his spot back at the top of the rotation, which is bad news for the rest of baseball.
Keith Foulke has been pitching well lately ... when can we expect him to close again?
Ron, Dublin, Ohio
A: Ron, I think you might be looking at 2006, if then. It's been a lost year for Foulke, and the Sox are certainly not using him in a way that would suggest they think he can close again this season. He didn't pitch at all against the Yankees, Terry Francona said he didn't like the way the ball came out of Foulke's hand on Thursday against the Angels, and the pitcher himself doesn't sound like a man confident in his ability to be the guy who gets last call. I think Mike Timlin will carry that load into October, with the rookie, Jonathan Papelbon, being counted upon to handle eighth-inning setup situations..
Can we start planning a Yankee elimination party yet???
A: Make it a contingency plan at best, Mitch. If the Yanks had lost Sunday, I would have said, go right ahead, but they are still just 3 behind the Sox for the division, and 1 ½ games behind the Indians in the wild card. The series that starts tonight between the A's and Indians could have a great bearing on the course of the wild-card race. Plus, the Yankees face their nemesis, Tampa Bay, this week, in Tropicana Field, so let's see how they survive before getting carried away with party plans.
After watching another mediocre performance by Schilling on Monday I am wondering if RSN should just accept the fact that this is what you're going to get from him the remainder of the year. I'm not saying he doesn't belong in the rotation but I think we were all hoping for something a little more. I am very concerned about him facing the Yankees this weekend. That lineup will be licking their chops at his 90mph fastball and inconsistent splitter. Do you see him taking an early shower?
Rocco Avignone, Boston, MA
A: Rocco, I'm guessing your concerns were relieved at least somewhat by Schilling's dominant performance against the Bombers on Saturday. The Nation will breathe easier if Schilling can come close to replicating that effort back home Thursday against Oakland, but given the aggressive way he was able to attack Yankee hitters Saturday, and dial it up to 96 on a couple of occasions, the signs are very positive, Yankee manager Joe Torre did lament that the Yankees let Schilling off the hook by falling so far behind; he would have liked to have seen how Schilling responded if the game had been close.
I'd you know that Keith Foulke did not throw a pitch over 87 miles per hr against the Yankees in the ALCS last year? I know this because I just watched my new MLB DVD of those games. Why are you talking so much about his velocity? It is location, location, location. But it is not his velocity. And he may be throwing his change up too fast. In the ALCS he was between 70-75 mps with the change. He seems to be around 78 now. . Watch the DVD and be sure to tell Francona and Foulke to watch it too.
Bob Alves, Alexandria VA
A: Bob, That's an interesting point you make, though I suspect I don't need to pass along the message to Francona and Foulke. I'm sure they've watched plenty of film when Foulke was right. I mention velocity because the Sox themselves talk about it, particularly in terms of there not being enough separation between his fastball and change. But you're absolutely right when you talk about location; Foulke has little margin for error, and when he can't hit his spots, he's in big trouble. That's why I think a big part of the problem is mental. Foulke appears to have lost a great deal of confidence along the way this season.
Love the mailbag and your chats. You do a good job of keeping the nation informed. My question is this, is Cliff Floyd available from the Mets? Trading Manny for Floyd and Milledge would be close to equal value, but it makes the Sox lineup to left-handed, so go sign Konerko and insert him in the middle and you have made up for Manny's production. Any way you see this scenario happening?
Colby Corbitt, Fallon, NV
A: Colby, glad you enjoy the 'bag. I'm sure you remember Floyd has already passed through Boston once before, back in 200x, and with his history of injuries and advancing age, I don't see him being in the picture. I do believe that any trade for Manny would have to include Lastings Milledge, the Mets' exceptional young outfield prospect, and I could see the Sox going after Konerko to hit behind Ortiz if they do intend to trade Manny. The timing of these things will be tricky. Will they be able to deal Manny before the winter meetings: I would think they'd almost have to, much like they tried to do during the A=Rod talks two years ago.
What do you see as the likelihood that Curt Schilling will make a strong contribution in September or (God willing) October?
Bob Ottaviano, Coventry, RI
A: Now let's not lay this one on divine powers whether or not the Sox return to the postseason. With so many ballplayers pointing skyward these days, the common joke in the press box is that sooner or later God is going to point back and say, "Stop pointing at me!" But as we've discussed in a couple of the earlier entries, if Schilling follows up on his Yankee outing with similar stuff, you have to be very optimistic that he could be a difference maker in October.
I have seen Youkilis play and can see that he will be a solid big league player. However, I don't think he will be anything better than a #8 hitter next year. If he starts, he will probably hit .260 with 10 homeruns at the most. Bill Mueller is a great all around player and brings a lot to this team. He is getting old and has some knee problems but he will remain a good player for the next couple years. He also won't be to expensive to resign. We could resign him for 2 years for 4 Million or less a year. Alex Cora could back him up.
Youkilis has a lot of value and could be used in a big trade made this off season. As you know, pitching is our biggest problem. We could use Youkilis in a package deal and get a very good pitcher. What are your thoughts on this?
Matt P, Wayland
A: Matt, there may be no greater admirer of Bill Mueller in the press box than I am. He has been immensely valuable to the Sox in his three years here; I actually think his defense has gone up a notch this year, and offensively how many teams have a batting champion hitting at the bottom of the order? Mueller has been a bargain, too, at $2.1m per, and does all the little things that winning players do. That said, I do think the Sox believe Kevin Youkilis' time has come; they love his high on-base percentage and have greater confidence that his power numbers will be better than you suggest. I think Theo Epstein is a believer in the value of some roster turnover and that the kids in the system have to be given a chance when they're ready. I suppose it's conceivable the Sox will go in the direction you suggest, but I believe that Youk is part of their future.
Gordon -- Hello for the Northeast IL Chapter of Red Sox Nation! I really enjoy your work and appreciate your insights on the Red Sox. Looking toward the playoffs -- unless the Indians take the Wild Card, the Sox will likely play the AL West Champ in the ALDS. How do you handicap that race? Which team provides the better match-up for the Sox? Thanks.
Glenn McGrath, Grayslake, IL
A: Shoot, Glenn, we haven't seen the A's since before they got hot. The Sox have played very well against the Angels this season, but they have a big-stage player in Vladi Guerrero and a fearless manager in Mike Scioscia, whose team plays a running, gambling style so different from the Sox. Bartolo Colon is your likely Cy Young Award winner, Ervin Santana looks like the real deal, especially when pitching in Anaheim, and the bullpen is deep. The A's are beat up right now, with injuries to Bobby Crosby, Rich Harden, Mark Kotsay and Bobby Kielty, and they don't have the postseason experience the Angels have, so I guess if I'm a Sox fan, I'd prefer to face Oakland.
I dont understand why fans are so quick to dismiss Millar and Bellhorn, boo Manny and Foulke. Doesn't anybody remember the key to winning it all last year: teamwork and faith? Does anybody really believe booing a player is going to end his slump? Does anybody really think another first baseman is going to have the impact in the clubhouse Millar has? Millar running around to all the team, "dont let them beat us tonight...."having the best players in the league doesnt mean a thing if they dont come together as a team... which is why the Yankees couldnt beat us. Never in my life have I seen a team exemplify the very word as the 2004 Boston Red Sox. Red Sox fans would do well to remember that word they held dear last year: faith. Does it ever amaze you, Gordon, how quick some fans are to forget??
Shelley Blake, Saratoga, NY
A: Shelley, how can I be amazed when I've seen Derek Jeter and the Great Rivera booed in Yankee Stadium? Some fans just believe they have an inalienable right to vent. I'll be honest, I've never understood the phenomenon of booing one of your own unless they're dogging it, but I'm in the minority, I guess. Clearly the booing affected Bellhorn's performance; of that there can be no doubt.
Gordon, It seems like many Sox pitching prospects are struggling with tired arms (Hanson and Papelbon in particular). Should we read anything into this? Also Papelbon was being groomed for the bullpen at one point...how much sense does this make for a guy with 4 pitches? I say let him start.
Dave C, Salem, NH
A: Dave C, Papelbon, as he proved in Toronto last night with his first big-league win, is simply too valuable in the pen right now, with the Sox unable to get anything from Keith Foulke. Believe me, the long-term plan is for Papelbon to start, and I would not be shocked if that's the way the Sox eventually go with Craig Hansen, too.
When is management or a committee of Red Sox players going to finally gather the gumption to confront Manny Ramirez about his lack-of-hustle?
Manny is an abomination! He disrespects major league baseball with his lackadaisical fielding and base-running. I for one hope he'll be gone after this season. His annual RBI total just isn't worth the aggravation and exasperation of "Manny being Manny" game-after-game.
John Sygiel, Orange, CA
A: John, I often tell my young colleague, Chris Snow, that regardless of how much we try, we only know a fraction of what's going on with the team at any given time. We don't know what's happening behind closed doors. Manny's teammates, especially Millar, have talked to him at times, but they, too, know it's a delicate balance: Say too much, and you lose the guy. His production is simply too valuable to risk that. But believe me, I often share your pain.