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.
Hi folks, welcome to the mailbag, The Rant Edition, rated RS-17 for mature Sox fans only, although most of you did not keep the censors as busy as they might have been, under the circumstances.
Best read with the doors locked, the windows shut, the kids over at the neighbors, and the stereo set at full blast to drown out the screams. I'm just glad none of this week's 'Baggers are U.S. customs agents, or the Red Sox would never get out of Canada tonight. Anyway, on with your e-mails.
The best trade Theo can make is to get a manager who manages, not one trying to win a popularity contest with his players. That would also mean a manager who makes the decision when Manny will play again, that Drew isn't worthy of being a starter on a championship team, that the Gagne trade was a disaster (and who wouldn't leave him in after three walks to give up a double and a game), who wouldn't use a no-hitter pitcher in rotation when the regulars showed signs of wear. The list is endless. If we lose the division title the blame lies largely on a manager who won't manage. There, now I feel better.
Alden Godfrey, Palm Springs
A: Alden, I'm sure Tito would be happy to know that your blood pressure went down at his expense.
I've been a Red Sox fan for many, many years. It seemed to me that this year we were on a roll to clinch the division. I'm sitting here watching the Red Sox play the Blue Jays and we were doing great. Then all of a sudden we're up by one run and in comes Eric Gagne. It's been my experience that Gagne isn't doing very well. So WHY IS HE IN WHEN WE"RE ONLY UP BY ONE RUN AND THE YANKEES ARE ONLY 3 1/2 games back?????????????????
Jodi Bisson, Lincoln, Maine
A: Jodi, In case you haven't checked the standings yet, it is now 1 ½ games after Wednesday's series finale against the Blue Jays. The Yankees have been on a roll, too. They're 45-20 since the All-Star break and have won five of their last six while the Sox have lost five of their last six. I assure you, on a day like this, Gagne wishes he'd done what all good little French-Canadian boys do and played hockey instead.
Who is more clueless, Epstein for trading for "Gagme" or Francona for putting him in a game?
Bill, Coral Springs Fla.
A: Bill, sounds like the pilot episode for CSI: Boston.
Gordon, Our Manager is TERRIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! to be polite.
A: Hubbard, Etiquette always scores big points in the 'Bag. Thanks for so sweetly hurling your insult.
Hello again, in my earlier e-mail regarding the termination of Francona, I forgot an important piece of reasoning. In last night's mismanaged loss to Toronto during the bottom of the eighth, when everybody could see the wheels falling off, Francona sat there like a deer in the headlights. He reminded me of George Bush in the classroom right after 9/11. My point is that when a team has a manager being compared to George W. Bush, shouldn't that be grounds for firing said manager? Just a thought. BTW, if the Sox do back into the playoffs and get knocked out in the first round (more than likely), do you think ownership will keep both Francona and Epstein? What do you think the future holds for these incompetents?
A: Ed, sorry if your first e-mail didn't make the cut, but I think we caught the gist. Sorry, but the 'Bag strives to be Switzerland-politically neutral. So I can't weigh in on your Bush analogy, though I would hazard to say the stakes were a little higher for GWB than TJF. As for future employment, I would say count on Theo and Tito being back next year, though they may want to stay as clear of the polls as GWB does.
With all the crap about Drew, Gagne, etc., which is needed, why leave out the real problem? The real problem lies with the manager. I know this, you know this, and anyone who watches the Sox knows this. We have a manager that does know how to use the bullpen, who will not make needed changes because it might hurt someone's feelings. This is a poor way for the manager to work, or in this case PLAY. If we fall behind the Yankees you can place the results at the feet of one man, FRANCONA. From now on tell it like it is.
A: Bob, for four months, the Sox bullpen was spectacular. Now, Tito doesn't know how to manage a bullpen? I don't think Francona was worried about Eric Gagne's feelings-I think he wanted to know if he could count on Gagne to get him an out when the game was on the line, something Gagne did better than anyone in baseball before he got hurt.
Will you please ask Francona if he even cares if the Sox win? Why on God's green earth would you leave Gagne in after he loads the bases and can't find the strike zone with a freaking compass? What are we missing- his pitches weren't even close to the strike zone, he just walked the bases loaded, and he stays while Papelbon twiddles his thumbs in the Pen? I reiterate, does Francona even care any more about W's and L's?
Jim Walter, Elk Grove, Calif.
A: Man, Jim, what were you typing with when you sent your e-mail, brass knuckles? I was worn out fixing all the words you mangled in your fury. Tito wanted to see if a guy he's hoping to count on in October against Jeter and A-Rod or Vladi or Sizemore in October could get out the immortal Russ Adams in September. He couldn't, which sends up all kinds of red flags. You can certainly make the argument-and many of you are-that Tito lost sight of the first priority: The heck with tomorrow, win today, get Paps in there.
The biggest charity event of this season is allowing Terry Francona to manage the team. He might be a great guy and a player's manager, but I think his day-to-day handling of game situations (especially most recently) is minor league at best. What are his chances of holding his position for the 2008 season?
A: Rick, Tito has a contract through the 2008 season, and while it would not be unprecedented to can a manager of a playoff team-shoot, John W. Henry might have fired Grady even if they'd won the WS in 2003-I think Francona's job security is not in play.
This being the second year in a row Manny has gone on vacation during the month of Sept., what do you think of this idea... trade Manny, and put Ellsbury in left field. Mike Lowell has been a good replacement behind Ortiz, and an outfield of Ellsbury, Crisp and Drew (hoping he'll do better in his 2nd year) does not sound bad. Next year is the last year of Manny's contract, so why not trade him now and get something for our money? I'm just getting real tired of him letting the team down in Sept. when he's needed most.
Hazel Keysville, Va.
A: Hazel, I'm on record as saying Manny quit on the club last season. I'm not in a position to do so this time. Oblique injuries are notoriously tricky, as I wrote about in some detail today. In my experience, usually when a guy starts taking BP he's close to coming back, but after a week of BP, Manny's still feeling it-that's what he's telling Tito, evidently-and is "dying" to resume playing, according to the manager. There's no test the Sox can run that would prove conclusively Manny is ready to play. No one in the organization has criticized him for not playing the time frame of his absence remains consistent with what often happens in these cases. Only Manny knows for sure.
Gordon, How much longer can Tito go with Gagne? Face it, the experiment failed. This guy is not a clutch performer anymore.
Scott Malone, Ellsworth, Maine
A: Scott, It's hard for me to envision a scenario in which the Sox can even test the proposition that Gagne is their eighth-inning guy anymore. Last night had the feel of a flunked final exam.
Gordon thanks for the great articles and insights about the Sox. You consistently provide quality commentary and reporting in a very crazy and emotionally charged sports market. My question is a simple one: Why has Terry Francona seemingly refused to use all the arms he has available to him in the bullpen? He has stayed with relievers when they clearly don't have their best stuff. In the beginning of a season allowing a pitcher to work his way through trouble is understandable, but not crunch time in the middle of a pennant race.
A: Roy, I think Francona has done a good job of explaining the way he uses his bullpen. He was bent on protecting Papelbon to have him fresh for this time of year, and has succeeded. He's backed off on Okajima, as teams have adjusted to his off-speed stuff and he has gotten tired. He's placed Delcarmen and Timlin in positions in which they can succeed. His front office gave him Gagne and sold him on the basis that he would only make Tito's late-inning options better. It hasn't worked out. The Sox may soon be scrambling for an option. Clay Buchholz? Wouldn't shock me.
Gordon, Francona is so off base in this morning "excuse" why he left Gagne in to lose the game. Trust? Who the hell can trust Francoma to lead a major league team? Gagne has struggled but as of late has done well. Why leave the guy in to further make him feel bad as it was clear he could not get the ball over the plate. Francoma's excuse was weak. Win the game, protect Gagne's fragile ego, and use the good bullpen to win the game. What a loser he is, he cannot admit he made a mistake. I'd have more respect for Francoma if he'd be a man and admit his mistake. I hope he is fired no matter if he wins the WS. That is how I feel as a fan, fire him period.
Jim Hodges, South Daytona, Fla.
A: Jim, I hope your employers are more inclined to award you on performance than on how they might feel about you on a given day. Fire him even if he wins the World Series? That's choice.
Gordon, I love your update columns that provide all those great background details, but I have to take exception to the Sep 19 headline, "without Ramirez, muscle still missing from lineup." While that's literally true--Manny outweighs Ellsbury and is more muscular--the fact is that Ellsbury appears to bring more to the Sox offense than Manny, or at least this September (vs. August, when Manny played). It isn't just the Sox scoring average is up, it's that they got a bunch of runs off of the Yankees three best starters, Pettitte, Wang, and Clemens. The problem to me seems to be that the pitching is regressing in this key month--average runs scored is 4.78 (vs. 4.05 for the season). And that seems to boil down to getting key outs late in the game, whether the starter (Schilling in his last start) or the bullpen (Okajima, Papelbon, and of course Gagne). Oh, and Ellsbury has already hit three dingers in September, the same number Manny hit in August. Do I want Manny back? Absolutely. But his absence doesn't seem to make the huge difference you imply. As your update column makes clear, Manny is battling both the injury and the psychology of the injury, neither of which would be conducive to hitting well in a season that has already been a downer for him.
Creighton Abrams, Springfield, Va.
A: Creighton, hey, I'm as impressed by Ellsbury as the next guy, but I guarantee you the Yankees were much happier to see Ellsbury in left than Manny. The Indians and Angels would feel the same. Manny didn't have a big August, but he still remains one of the most feared hitters in the game. He could just as easily get hot the way David did---he has done so in many Septembers in the past.
Gordo, My Yankee fan neighbors are starting to feel good. Winning 5 of the last 6, and the season series to boot they really DO think they are going to win the division. With the injuries to the Orioles starting staff, you might as well pencil in the Yankees winning at LEAST 4 of the last 5 from the Orioles, so unless we're going to get some help from the Blue Jays, the Yanks are going to probably win 95 games. Which mean the Sox need to win 6 of 10. But when you blow games like last night in Toronto (my 10 year old daughter said "oh no NOT Gagne when he came in). Don't disagree that the OLD Gagne would be a huge help in October, but once there were 2 on last night WHERE was PAP. He hadn't pitched in 4 days. WE need the DIVISION or I'll have to listen to my Yankee fan neighbors about the greatest collapse in history (even though we get the WC). Gordon PLEASE HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Joe Gill, Titusville, N.J.
A: Joe, not to be a wise guy, but .have you thought of moving into a different neighborhood? Maybe look for one that has Wally the Green Monster dolls on the front lawn. Think about it: Do you really want to run the risk of your daughter growing up to date a Yankee fan. Move, before it's too late!
Gordo: Why is there such a tremendous focus on getting things right with Gagne? I know he would strengthen the bullpen a lot if he got back on track, but we seem to disregard what Delcarmen could give us. Why not put Delcarmen in more 7th and 8th inning setup situations in close games, and see if he could become that dependable go-to guy? He has done well lately, and with the playoffs drawing near, we need to find someone else, given that Gagne can't be relied upon at the moment. With Delcarmen and Timlin, as well as Buchholz, we have other options. Why not give the young guys more opportunity to stabilize our bullpen?
Peter B., San Mateo, Calif.
A: Peter B., if Manny would only show better command of his excellent curveball, I think he would be a terrific eighth-inning guy. To expect him to slide into that eighth-inning role now might be asking a lot, but the Sox may be looking at him as well as Buchholz as possible options. It shows you just how valuable Mike Timlin has been all these years, but I don't think they believe it's realistic to expect Mike to be the guy in that role this October. Let's see how much the rest benefits Okajima.
Gordon, you must be getting slammed with emails right now, but aside from the obvious Gagne stuff (he better not pitch in an important spot the rest of the way, end of discussion), can you believe what the Sox have become? In last night's loss to the Blue Jays we started Brandon Moss, Jacoby Ellsbury and J.D. Drew in the outfield. I mean, really? Two rookies and a guy who is hitting .260? This could not be more different that the 2004 champs... It seems like the 2007 Sox are literally falling apart at the seams:
The outfield is in a shambles because Manny won't play and Coco has a sore hip, or is it his back?; Youk is out for who knows how long because he is a Yankee bullseye; Varitek seems to strike out more times than he even goes to the plate; Mirabelli is a mess; Papi is hobbling around like he's about to go pick up his AARP card; Schilling and Dice-K are having their starts pushed back; Wakefield is getting killed again after his injury time off; Okie has hit a wall; and on top of it all, there might be something wrong with Paps (why didn't Tito go to him last night with 2 outs in the 8th?).
Who could have thought that Mikey Lowell would be the rock in all of this? I hate to say it, but I have confidence in 2 players on the team right now, Lowell and Beckett. Everyone else (even Ellsbury because he's still a rookie) leaves me wondering. Essentially, I'm terrified.
So after all that spewing of worry and fear, here's my question: even if we make it to the playoffs (which I'm still virtually certain that we will), how are we going to win 11 more high pressure post-season games?
Chris Murphy, Washington, D.C.
A: Chris, Mike Lowell has said it time and again. He wants to be on the team that doesn't necessarily have the best record, but is playing best when October rolls around. Looking at the way the Yanks, Tribe, and Angels are playing right now, that doesn't appear to be the Sox, though the starting pitching is holding up its end. Late-inning losses also make things seem a lot worse than they otherwise may be. No time to lose your heart now.
Gordon, despite spending millions more in the offseason, it appears the Sox once again lack the depth to be a threat in the playoffs. While the injuries have come at a bad time, isn't Theo ultimately responsible for the overall talent (or lack thereof) on this team? Will he be the one to suffer the consequences if the Sox don't make it at least to the ALCS (or, heaven forbid, miss the playoffs altogether?) I think Francona getting the Sox even this far is a credit to his overall skills as a manager. It would be a shame to see him become the fall guy.
Casey, Lebanon, N.H.
A: Casey, the infusion of talent this September has been terrific-how many teams have added an Ellsbury AND a Buchholz? The Sox were lucky to miss the injury bug much of the season; they're piling up at a bad time, as you note, but I don't really see depth as the issue. If you want to point to the disappointing performances of some of Theo's acquisitions, that's certainly legitimate, and he's ultimately accountable, although shouldn't the player also bear some responsibility?
Has Eric Gagne entered the witness protection program yet?
John Kadena, Okinawa, Japan
A: Not if he's e-mailing me. Read on.
Do you think the pressure of being traded to Boston in the middle of a pennant race is too much for me to handle? I have been virtually useless up until this point and am in danger of blowing the season for my team? I'm losing the fans and losing games for my team.
Eric Gagne, Boston
A: Eric, if there is a candidate for caring too much, you might be the guy. You said something last night about how you should stop thinking out there and just pitch. Right now it's pretty obvious you're losing the confidence game, and each failure makes it that much harder for you to get it back. I'm just surprised we're not seeing more of your great changeup. Is there something physical going on that is impacting your ability to command that pitch?
In today's notebook, you said that Ellsbury isn't jeopardizing his rookie status for '08 by virtue of the at-bats cut off. Just curious what the criteria is for pitchers. Appearances? Innings? Time on the major league roster? Wanted to know if Phil Hughes, Joba and Clay Buchholz will all be considered rookies next year. And just a psychotic rant that you probably want to ignore, what's the deal with A-Rod? Are the Red Sox really gonna pursue him if he opts out of his contract, and if so, are the Sox fans really going to embrace him? I read pages and pages at Sons of Sam Horn (probably my first mistake) of people who can't wait to throw Manny, Lowell and Schilling under the first bus so that they can sign A-Rod. Now, I was all for the Manny for A-Rod deal and Nomar for Ordonez back in '03, but hasn't a lot changed since then? I know he's the best player in baseball, but don't we hate him? Isn't he the embodiment of everything we hate about the Yankees? Am I just being very naïve or do I need to work on my ability to double-think before they send me back for re-education?
A: Dave, in order for a pitcher to qualify for rookie of the year in 2008, he cannot have pitched 50 innings in the previous season or seasons in the big leagues. Hitters, it's no more than 130 at-bats.
Gordon: I appreciate your columns and mailbag. After the Yankee series Joe Torre said:
"Every game we have an opportunity to win, we're going to take it. Whatever price you have to pay, you have to pay, at this point." Why can't Terry Francona think the same when it comes to his pitchers? In my opinion, Okajima should not have been pitching to Cabrera, Schilling should not have come out for the eighth and definitely not pitched to Giambi and Gagne should have been pulled last night. Evidently Francona knew he was overthrowing and was quoted, 'He had two quick outs. That's his inning to get out of.' Wrong, Terry. It's your job to preserve the "opportunity to win". If you knew Gagne was overthrowing and then he loads the bases, it's his job to take him out. Your thoughts?
Ed, Philadelphia, Pa.
A: Ed, That's a very reasonable case to make. Francona sent out pitching coach John Farrell to try and calm down Gagne and get him not to overthrow, but it didn't work out. And is it worth reminding anybody that if Adams's liner had been a half a foot lower, we wouldn't be having this discussion at the same intensity level?
Gordon, you never answer my question due to my lousy grammar (second language). The way the Red Sox have been playing has been a concern to me a great deal and I'm already sick to my stomach. The truth is they allow the Yankees to catch them easily in every Aug./Sept. to win the division. Eric Gagne already cost us four games, some of our starters have struggled for no reason-still no excuse. Manny already shut down for two Septembers in row--a lack of interest to save the team. Terry Francona didn't get the job done as he left the struggling reliever in the game too long and blew the lead. It looks like he's asking to be fired after he complained about not getting a contract extension. But his job performance is inexcusable after another meltdown in late Aug./Sept. He gave the Yankees another incredible benefit!!! I'm already fed up since I know they're not good enough to win the playoffs the way they've been playing now. Now, I turn the focus on the N.E. Patriots. It's sad situation for the RS as it's really screwed up, from Theo to Terry.
Kevin Laliberte, Chelmsford
A: Kevin, I assure you that I don't discriminate on the basis of bad grammar. We get a lot of questions here at the 'Bag, and I can't answer all of 'em. But after reading your e-mail, I have to ask: What exactly is your question? I guess maybe you just wanted to get a few things off your chest, like a million or so other frustrated Sox fans.
There has been a lot written about Red Sox pitcher pitch selections - "Gagne threw almost all fastballs" during his meltdown last night in Toronto; last year Beckett "relied too much on trying to blow hitters away with heat" (and this year has achieved great success by utilizing all his pitches); "Dice-K has gotten away from using all his pitches and it has gotten him in trouble". My question is how much of the pitch calling rests on the catcher and/or pitching coach and how much on the pitcher? I don't recall seeing these guys constantly shaking off signs. Why would Varitek or Farrell call for such a limited pitch selection for Gagne and Dice-K recently when these guys have not been achieving the same success as earlier this season? While there may be a lack of confidence in their off-speed stuff, they sure aren't being effective going with just the fastball. Who called for all those fastballs last night for Gagne or has been limiting Dice-K's repertoire of pitches and why? Shouldn't a new pitch strategy plan be used?
Friend of Freddy Lynn, San Antonio, Texas
A: FFL, You raise a very interesting point, because I don't see many signs being shaken off. I will raise the issue with the appropriate authorities and see if I can give you a full response. The pitcher, pitching coach and catcher before a game/series formulate strategy and how they intend to attack hitters, and often Varitek will adjust according to what he sees working or not working. Ultimately, it is up to the pitcher what he throws-the ball is in his hand, but your point is worth pursuing.
This is a passage from an article written by a Boston Globe writer: When asked about what Ramirez would have to show Francona and the team before being reinstated into the lineup, Francona said, "He needs to clear himself. The medical people have gotten fairly aggressive. He's swinging the bat fairly aggressive. But there has to be, I don't know about assurance -- peace of mind's probably not the right word -- but a confidence from himself that he can go play the game and not hurt himself. And that's a hard thing. Myself included. You see him go hit the ball out on the street, you go, 'Oh man.' But you can really make some disastrous mistakes trying to read somebody else's body. It doesn't work." Francona needs to be fired. He never puts his best team on the field. He is continually letting his players decide when they want to play. Does Francona really believe he has the organization's and the fan's best interest at heart? How can Sox management keep him as manager? He is still managing like it is the middle of the season and that it is a given that the Sox are going to the playoffs. I now find myself cheering against the Sox to make the playoffs because if they make the playoffs Francona and Epstein (yes, Epstein - he needs to be held accountable for this travesty) will think they have done a good job - which they have not. Henry is a weak owner to let this happen. The Henry lovefest should end. What a joke!
A: Paul, I guess JWH should be relieved that you're not asking him to sell the team.
Gordon, Am I auditioning for a spot in the postseason rotation Wednesday night in Toronto? I know I'm only 23 and might not be ready however... Dwight Gooden 19 years old 17-9 2.60 ERA, Mark Fidrych 21 years old 19-9 2.34 ERA, Tom Seaver 24 years-old 25-7 2.21 ERA. Mr. Seaver went on to start 543 more games in the majors. If these guys pitched for the current Red Sox regime they wouldn't get the ball in the playoffs? I've pitched 143 innings this season. Those guys all pitched well over 200. What gives?
Clay Buchholz, Boston
A: Clay, I don't think you want to be using Fidrych as an example. You know how quickly he broke down? There is compelling evidence that demonstrates a pitcher's workload early in his career will dictate longevity down the road. However do I think you may be auditioning for a postseason roster spot tonight? Absolutely. Go get 'em, Kid.
GE, Have the Red Sox players lost confidence and faith in the leadership and strategy (or lack thereof)? As a distant observer via satellite, I wonder whom the leader(s) is/are and whether there is a consistent, sound strategy from management/coaches. It's not the downtrodden looks of the faces on the Fenway faithful that concern me, but, rather the looks of doubt on the faces of the players in the dugout. The recent woes cannot be blamed on Manny's vacation (which as was reported in your paper, while this is certainly a serious injury, Pujols was back playing 16 days after TEARING the same muscle.), as the kid Jacoby has played well. Nor can they be blamed on effort. Guys like Lowell, Pedroia, Lugo, Papi, V-Tek, hell everyone really, have been trying their damnedest. (I actually believe that an obsession with effort can actually impede success by tightening things up. These guys just need to relax, trust their talent, and realize their potential.) So, as I watch the swoon, I continually ask myself: what has gone wrong? Why are we reduced to praying for rain after seven innings of starting pitching?
The only thing I can think of is a loss of confidence by players in management and their game strategies. Have the players lost faith in Francona and the other coaches? (By the way, I am not a Francona-Basher. While I don't think he is the sharpest tool in the dugout, I think he is a master with the press and manages players very well.) Finally, while I would never criticize Pap's pitching performance Friday, I thought his response to a reporter's question---Don't you ever just show up at work and just go thru the motions w/o having your head into it?---was pathetic. OK, fine, take a nap while pitching to the Orioles. But, how can he even utter the words that he just couldn't get up for a game vs. the Yankees in September with a slim lead in a pennant race? The pitching wheels seem to be falling off.
Sorry for the rambling. I needed to vent and my fellow Red Sox fans in Chicago are not answering their phones or emails today. Let me close by saying it's time for somebody in that clubhouse to step up and whisper, say, or yell that we are big boys and we need to play like we are capable of and wrap this thing up the way it should have been a week ago. (By the way, I still believe that will happen and that the Red Sox will win the division. However, the WS is another matter.)
A: Bob, no I don't see the Sox losing confidence in Tito at all. As you acknowledge, the effort is there. They've lost three ball games out of the last five in the late innings, and now the sky is falling. They're banged up and the Yankees are playing great ball, but they are going to be playing in October. Certainly understand the need to vent, and I agree, I thought Paps' response was mystifying, but hey, in Chicago, just remember you always have the option of picking on Cubs fans.
Gordon: I know it's not set in stone, but aren't you surprised they have penciled in Dice-K in Game 2 of the ALDS over Schilling, especially after the way Curt pitched vs. The Yanks? Dice-K is more than capable, but Terry is a very loyal manager to his veterans & say that we are down 2-1 in the ALDS & Terry decides to bring back Beckett on three days rest in Game 4 that leaves Dice-K to pitch Game 5 as opposed to Schilling. Hope it's all a moot point, but can't understand considering Dice-K's recent struggles.
Jimbo, Pembroke Pines, FL
A: Jimbo, your most important point is the first one you made: Nothing is set in stone. Let's see how Daisuke does in his last two regular-season starts. With the off-days before the start of the division series, a team will have time to adjust its rotation if it deems it necessary. The Sox like Matsuzaka's big-game pedigree-but if Schill pitches again like he did against the Yankees-they may have second thoughts. Let's see how Daisuke responds to the extra rest
How come nobody is questioning Manny on his prolonged injury? This looks and feels just like last year when he just kind of opted out of the last month of the season. This is the time of year when guys play hurt. This is for all the marbles and yet nobody seems to question Manny parking his high-priced butt on the bench and deciding if and when he will play. The season is over in two weeks and then the playoffs. He needs to get up and start swinging at live pitches and be ready come October. Manny being Manny is getting really old.
Old and Wiser, Maine
A: O & W, the frustration is understandable, but as I mentioned in an earlier e-mail, the oblique is maybe the toughest injury of all to read. I have to believe he's close to being back, and the Sox want his bat in October.
Gordo, When are you and the rest of the Boston Sports writers going to start to holding Francona accountable for his management skills. You guys wonder why he hasn't been given an extension? He is lucky that I'm not John Henry because he would be gone by the end of the year win or lose. Boston wins despite his incompetence. What was he thinking tonight in the 8th inning? Do you think the Sox's have put Papelbon on some special count program? He hasn't pitch in four days and they need every win ASAP. My money is on the Yankees simply because the Sox will be out managed the rest of the year. I know, I don't have to remind you how important home field is with this team. Well there is always next year!! Mark my words.
A: Steve, if your premise is correct, few people have been rewarded for "incompetence" as much as Terry Francona. He just must be one lucky guy, eh?
Currently Tuesday night and the Red Sox have just blown another game, or should I say Gagne has blown another game. According to my count that is the 4th game he has blown when he has come in the 8th or 9th with the lead. With that aside, do you get the feeling that for the past week while other teams are playing chess Terry Francona is playing checkers?
Isabelle, Chestnut Hill
A: Isabelle, actually Tito likes to play cribbage.
Phew I can only imagine what the mailbag must be like at 4 Yawkey Way. Thanks for staying in touch.