The Globe's Nick Cafardo checked in from New York earlier today to discuss the Red Sox at the break. Among the topics Nick tackled: Red Sox trade rumors, the bullpen, Manny Ramirez, Julio Lugo, Charlie Zink, Jon Lester, and more.
NationInExile: Nick, I've been following the astonishing progress of Charlie Zink in Pawtucket this year (10-2, 2.2-ish ERA). What do you do with an up-and-coming knuckleballer? I see they have his rotation aligned with Wake's; I assume they plan to substitute him in at some point. But with Wake clearly still in his prime at 41, can a club support two knuckleballers? Can my weak nerves?
Nick Cafardo: I would use him as trade bait. Quite frankly, I can't believe a team has not inquired about him or traded for him. I think knuckle-ballers are a rare commodity. Zink is different than Wake in that he can throw 85-90 mph on his fastball, but his knuckleball doesn't quite have the bite.
lowellfan25: Hi Nick. What are your thoughts on the Sox bringing Tek back next year? What do they sign him for, in your opinion? Also, if he is let go, who will catch? Cash certainly is not an everyday player IMO.
Nick Cafardo: I think Tek will be back. His agent is Scott Boras, who I just spoke to literally two minutes ago. Scott will ask for the moon. He'll ask for a Posada deal, but I would doubt the Sox would go that far. I think they'd rather sign him to a 2-year deal at about $10-$12 million per year. I think Tek wants to finish his career as a Red Sox. And when it comes down to the final moments of negotiation I think he'll remain a Red Sox.
johnny_rocco: it looks like the problem with the sox is the walk. How many games have the sox lost because of the walk?
Nick Cafardo: I can say they haven't lost as many games as many other teams because of the walk. But they're up and pitching coach John Farrell doesn't like it and is trying to emphasize throwing strikes like every pitching coach in the game. It's a problem with young pitchers who are often afraid to trust their stuff and throw strikes. But I wouldn't say this problem is unique to the Sox.
johnwyatt: Nick, will the Sox do anything to limit Lester's innings this season? You know how they are with the young 'uns. Jeff/Maine
Nick Cafardo: Jeff, Lester is under no restrictions with innings. He's beyond that "kid gloves" stage. The Sox do like to rest starters from time to time and you'll notice that Lester is getting plenty of rest at the All-Star break and then doesn't pitch for a while.
Rah-rah: Nick, have you heard anything rumored about Mark Teixeira possibly coming here?
Nick Cafardo: Because the report came from my long-time mentor and former colleage Peter Gammons, I give it great respect. The Sox have always coveted Teixeira, a former draft pick. But it would still surprise me if they gave up Youkilis, who appears to be the ultimate dirt-dog type player and absolutely perfect in the Red Sox lineup.
perfectstorm07: Were you aware that Oki, Lopez, Timlin and Delcarmen have almost equalled last seasons walks totals in the first half? Any trades on the horizon regarding the pen, or do they feel inserting Masterson there will be enough?
Nick Cafardo: As I wrote earlier I know the walk totals are up. It's a concern, but I think this will improve because there's such an emphasis on it from the coaching staff. Masterson should help because they need that sinker-ball guy to come in and pick up a DP when they need it. I think they're hoping that Masterson gives them what Timlin used to. Is it enough? I think so. But that doesn't mean they won't do more.
Glenn: Hey Nick, What do you think the Red Sox will do before the July 31st trade deadline? Blockbuster trade, minor trade or stand pat? What players would possilbly be involved if any trade would take place?
Nick Cafardo: My gut feeling is they will do something minor only because they're so protective of their prospects. Compared to their competition, they're already one of the deepest teams so they don't need to do much unless they honestly believe David Ortiz won't come back with his usual power. But they certainly have their scouts out there watching lefties like Damaso Marte, Ron Mahay and Brian Fuentes. I'm they're looking at shortstops as well.
archie: which player is likely to be gone when Masterson is called up?
Nick Cafardo: Great question. Possibilities: Hansen could go back down; Timlin could be released.
bob_tichell: This is a question about adverbs. Dennis Eckersly on NESN and now Dustin Pedroia in a quote in the paper a couple of days ago talk about playing"good" . This seems to have become a pervasive error in the language of athletes, and some lesser educated types. Whatever is happening to"well'? Is it gone from the language.? I'm not a grammar nazi by any means but that construction doesn't even sound right. I know Pedroia went to college.
Nick Cafardo: I understand your frustration. It's just ballplayer talk. I've heard it for 25 years.
lowellfan: What do you think about all that Wake has done for the Sox in '08? In my opinion he would only have 3 or 4 losses if he got the run support. Could he ever be a candidate for Cy Young?
Nick Cafardo: He's a great weapon. I think what's really helped is that this regime treats him like the other starters. He has strict pitch counts, gets his normal rest between starts. I think Francona and Farrell realize he's over 40 years old and they need to be smart in how they use him. I think he's been one of their top three starters this season. Very consistent. It's a shame he's missed out on some wins.
TheoforPresident: Nick - I know people love to jump on bandwagons but wasn't it obvious that once Tampa felt the expectations of winning that they would falter a little? Experience does matter in the A.L.
Nick Cafardo: Right, but I wouldn't jump on the bandwagon that says they're all done, either. Great talent. I still think they'll be a factor. Sure, experience is important, but there have been Cinderella teams who have won it. The Impossible Dream Red Sox come to mind.
NotaLugofan: Nick- How can Theo justify the aquistion of Lugo to his bosses?
Nick Cafardo: Don't really know the answer to that. Given Theo's success, I get the feeling he doesn't get questioned too often.
John: With Lugo out ... I would love to see the Sox make a move for Jack Wilson of the Pirates and while they are at it include Demaso Marte in the deal for the bullpen ... Wilson would make us a TREMENDOUS defensive team up the middle!
Nick Cafardo: I like that thinking. Sox have scouts watching the Pirates, but Marte is more the focus. They'd like to see what Lowrie can do.
Soxaholic: Hi Nick, thanks for answering questions on a Monday: Do you think the Sox will stay with Lugo in the long run, or is his contract too big an obstacle to overcome?
Nick Cafardo: Jed Lowrie has a great opportunity to make that a real debate. Let's see how the kid does over the next six weeks. Sometimes (hello Drew Bledsoe) you don't get your job back.
Ed: hey nick, just wondering are the sox at all interested in ritchie sexson?
Nick Cafardo: I hope not.
Jeremy: Nick, thanks for the Chat. I see Jeremy Kapstein sitting behind home plate for every Sox home game. Is he scouting, just taking in the game, or what?
Nick Cafardo: Very astute baseball/business man. Does a lot of scouting. Does a lot of good work for the Sox behind the scenes. Look back at his record as San Dieg Padres CEO. Really pulled the organization together.
Jeremy: Nick, there is a 'coach type' in the Sox dugout during each game. Usually at the far end of the dugout (away from Francona, Mills, Farrell) and talks to the players alot. Who is he?
Nick Cafardo: Might be Don Kalkstein, the team psychologist.
Jeremy: Nick, I seems unlikely to me that the Sox excersize Manny's option after this year. What do you think?
Nick Cafardo: I think they'll pick it up. One more time at least.
Seamhead: I strained a quad last year and came back to soon, and tore it! Ouch! Shortly before Julio Lugo tore his, I watched him ground into a double play I was sure would result in a fielder's choice at 2nd base. He was out at 1st by a LOT! Do you know if he was having quad issues at that time? Thanks
Nick Cafardo: Sorry about your quad problem. No, Julio was pretty healthy.
g_2: Nick, Enjoy your wokr very much! Which RS player onthe curetn rosdter will probably get traded atthe deadline at endo f July/ Or do you think Theor will stay pat?
Nick Cafardo: I think they will be very careful with chemistry. If I had to venture to list the candidates for a possible trade I would list Coco Crisp, Brandon Moss or Craig Hansen.
LSCII: Will the high walk totals finally catch up to Dice-K in the second half?
Nick Cafardo: It's truly one of the strangest seasons I've ever seen for a pitcher. His stats (10-1, 2.65 ERA) sound like Bob Gibson, but he doesn't pitch like him. Sure, at some point the streak of opponents being 0-for-11 with the bases loaded against him will bite him. He's been very fortunate given so few quality starts with a pitcher who has 10 wins.
mike16v: Nick, I believe that making any trades at the deadline would be a mistake. I don't see this team needing anything right now. I actually believe this team is better than the 2007 team. Do you agree?
Nick Cafardo: I don't think they're better than '07, but I do agree given the level of competition they probably don't need to do anything.
LSCII: With Bedard getting put on the DL, does that signal a red flag in regards to potentially trading for him at the deadline?
Nick Cafardo: As long as teams have the medicals and are aware of his progress, no, there could still be a deal for him. I'm not crazy about him as a pitcher. Even though he's got No. 1 stuff, he's not a No. 1. Doesn't have the makeup I like to see in a No. 1.
JP: Any chance the Sox move Lowrie?
Nick Cafardo: The only way I could see moving Lowrie is if they're getting another shortstop back and a very good left-handed relief pitcher, or part of a bigger deal (like the offseason Johan Santana package).
LSCII: Who do we have in the minors to help replace Tek in the next year or so?
Nick Cafardo: George Kottaras, Dusty Brown in Triple-A. Mark Wagner in Double-A. I think Tek is in a good negotiating position.
LSCII: Can Youk sustain his play or will he slump in the second half like he's done before?
Nick Cafardo: Great question. This is why they obtained Sean Casey to give Youk some rest so that won't happen. The guy plays every game like it's his last, so you wonder if he'll ever be fresh from start to finish.
JIMBO_JONES: thanks for the chat time who is the next prospect to come up and help the team that hasn't been up yet. That we should be watching for the future.
Nick Cafardo: I'd say Bowden and Bard.
BK: Is Lin, the MVP of the futures game, anywhere near MLB-ready?
Nick Cafardo: No. He's in A-ball. Good linedrive hitter. Great athlete. He's got 26 steals. Couple of years at least I'd say.
Brooks: Hey Nick, with the season that Charlie Zink is having at Pawtucket, do you see the Sox bringing him up sometime this month to maybe showcase him for a trade prior to the deadline?
Nick Cafardo: I don't know if the Sox are crazy about having two knuckleball pitchers on the same staff. I think it might be tough to do (in terms of catching him). I do believe he could come up in September or if Wake ever got hurt.
Nick Cafardo: Thanks everyone. It's been fun.