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I'll be with the team early this week in Minneapolis.
Here we go:
What are the odds of Jacoby Ellsbury re-upping with the Red Sox?
Dick Katz, Boyton Beach, Fla.
I'd say good. Boston is a big-market team with a lot of money. Scott Boras knows this. He may not pull the trigger on anything this offseason, but he'll keep the dialogue going with the Red Sox without a doubt. They've got the cash and Boras knows it.
I see the Yankees winning the free agent bidding war for Jose Reyes and Derek Jeter being moved to DH. Do you agree, as I believe that Jeter only signed a two-year deal?
That scenario wouldn't surprise me, but in speaking to Mets officials recently they're going to go all out to re-sign him and they may get it done because he'd rather stay there than go anywhere else. I know he likes LA, but not sure the Angels would go that far.
Is Josh Reddick in solid now, or is he trade bait? Is Ryan Kalish still the preferred future outfielder? And will they be able to keep Ellsbury?
Bob Tichell, Rochester NY
I think the Red Sox always think big, so if there's a chance to obtain a Jose Bautista or Andre Ethier they may do it. Reddick has certainly improved his value. I speak to scouts from other teams all the time who would love Reddick for their own teams. The Sox could go with him because Reddick has shown the ability to play right. He has a right-field arm. As for Kalish, he's dropped behind Reddick because of his shoulder injury, and although the Red Sox still think very highly of him, he basically missed the year so he's behind.
Any thoughts regarding Papi interrupting Tito's press conference about an official scorer decision??
Rich DiPrimio, Tewksbury
With Papi, you never know if he's kidding, but he didn't seem to be. I have a problem with players constantly complaining about scoring decisions. And they do. They shouldn't be allowed to do it. You hire people to do a job, let them do it. It also makes the player look very selfish.
With the success of the catching tandem of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek, should the Sox consider establishing a permanent platoon at catcher? Maybe when Varitek retires, they call up Ryan Lavarnway and have him share catching duties just like this season? I think it is advantageous considering the amount of stress and punishment a catcher endures during the season. If they can protect the starting pitchers by having them pitch every five days (and never hold a bat in the AL), I think it is also OK to have the catchers play every other day.
Just an info: here in the Philippines, we hardly get Red Sox games. Our local ESPN here shows Yankee games 80 percent of the time. What's up with that?
Lloyd Balbas, Philippines
I think this tandem can continue at least one more year. Salty is the starter, but Varitek is a really good backup who should catch at least twice a week. I like the idea of Lavarnway coming up in September and learning the ropes under Varitek then working with catching coach Gary Tuck this winter. The Sox may have to go with three catchers next season. Lavarnway is also a good fallback if the team doesn't re-sign David Ortiz.
All I'm hearing is that these Yankee-Red Sox series are not that important since it's still August. No doubt, the Red Sox and Yankees will be in the playoffs, but whoever wins the wild card will most likely have to go through Texas, which is a lot more daunting than whoever comes out of the Central. Shouldn't it be the goal to win the division, which means beating the Yankees (and everyone else)?
You should always try to win the division. That's what you play the games for. The Red Sox don't match up as well against Texas as the Yankees do, so it's even more important for Boston to win the division. And I believe that both teams are trying to win the division.
Greetings from Big Sky Red Sox Nation Country! What's the contract situation with Bedard? Is he a rent-a-player or do the Sox have some control after this season? If Bedard is a free agent after the season and assuming he performs, would the Sox look to keep him? They are already down one starter next season before even this season is over with Dice-K's surgery and recovery.
Bill Tino, Belgrade, Mont.
He's a free agent. Do they try to re-sign him? Sure, if he pitches well. Otherwise he's a rent-a-pitcher. Bedard is said to like the West Coast more than the East Coast. He professed his love for Fenway when he was traded here. The Red Sox aren't going to go crazy with an offer to him, but if they can get him at their price - a two-year deal - then they probably do it.
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Sorry Nick, I can't agree with your assessment of the Sox team doctors, specifically Dr. Gill. They have mismanaged injuries going back to Curt Schilling in 2008 at the very least. Two pitchers lost to Tommy John surgery, Buchholz out with his back, losing Crawford to a hammy injury for the first time in his career ... that's just for starters. They should have the best care, given it's Boston and we have the best medical minds. But it's not the case. They need new docs.
Pete Guglietta, Mt. Prospect, Ill.
Not sure I understand this. You're blaming player injuries on the doctors? Have you seen the injury lists of other teams? Tommy John just doesn't happen. It happens over time. Rich Hill just came to their organization late last year. Daisuke Matsuzaka has been here but he wore out his elbow for years in Japan. Crawford played nine years on turf. Curt Schilling? The doctors told the Red Sox he had nothing left, but they gave him the money anyway. Gill also told the Red Sox not to give Pedro Martinez a long-term deal because he'd blow out. Guess what happened with the Mets? How about how well Pedroia, Ellsury and Youkilis have rebounded from their injuries? Doctors get credit for that?
Enjoy the Sunday baseball notes. Is Kevin Youkilis striking out more this season than before? Seems that way.
Michael, North Garden, Va.
Looks around the same to me. He's had four years with 100 or more strikeouts, a high of 125 in 2009. He had 86 through 104 games. I think he's pretty much where he usually is.
Would any MLB team trade the Red Sox a ham sandwich or a bag of used baseballs for J.D. Drew? If yes, would you accept the deal?
Ryan Naumes, Boston
Nobody would trade for him now. He is a veteran hitter who has come up big in the postseason. Don't discount him just yet. He may help this team win a game or two.
My question is about the MVP. The Red Sox have three guys (AGon, Pedroia, Ellsbury) who look like vote-getters this season. Which do you predict will emerge as the front-runner down the stretch? And can Sox fans feel confident when Bautista and his numbers are in the mix?
Nate, Nashville, Tenn.
I think it will be hard to ignore Adrian Gonzalez. If he leads the league in hitting and RBI on a first-place team, he's going to catch the voters' eyes. He'll be the MVP. Bautista will have great numbers, but his team didn't do well, so he'll drop back.
I'm wondering what are the options in right field next season? Most of the majors-ready prospects we have in the system are lefthanded, but are there any good righthanded prospects in the organization who can take over right field or at least platoon with one of the lefties? Are there any in the market so that we can switch with one of the lefties? What it will take to land Matt Kemp in a trade and/or signing him as a free agent?
Manny, Jersey City, NJ
Alex Hassan is a very good righthanded hitting outfielder in Portland (Double-A), but not quite ready for prime time. If they want to go righthanded, they have to make a deal or sign a free agent. The White Sox' Carlos Quentin is a player who could be available in a deal. Michael Cuddyer with the Twins is a free-agent who might be of interest to them.
I just don't see the Sox being able to win the WS with a playoff rotation of Lester, Beckett and either Bedard or Lackey. Philly, Texas and Detroit all seem stronger. Any chance the Sox would consider something radical like acquiring Heath Bell or another reliever and easing Bard into the starting rotation? I know that is radical and extreme, but he was a starter in college. There is just no one on the trade front with his talent, so why not roll the dice? If the Sox roll out Wake or Lackey to start a playoff game, I will be in tears.
Aex Leary, Green Lake Wisc.
You'd have to stretch Bard out and the only time to really do that is in spring training. That would be radical and the Red Sox would never do it or even think about it. They have a good thing going with their bullpen and you'd be disrupting a very important part of the team.
Please explain 2 things for me because I just don't get it. Josh Reddick is hitting both lefties and righties quite well, so why does Francona pinch hit McDonald in favor of Reddick in a late inning tie ball game? Also, Mike Aviles is good to go both mentally and physically, so why won't the Sox give him a few chances at short or at least pinch hit him in favor of Scutaro? Aviles has more pop and speed and is a less double-play candidate.
Tom Yacovella, Utica, N.Y.
Francona is big on trying to find "spots" for McDonald to contribute. This is a franchise very big into stats and matchups and if they see a place where the matchup looks better for McDonald, they'll do it. I agree that Reddick doesn't need to be pinch-hit for and I think there will come a time soon when they'll let him hit lefties and righties. As for Aviles, didn't understand acquiring him in the first place. They knew they had Jed Lowrie coming back and they really needed a pure righthanded hitting outfielder. I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss Scutaro. He had four hits against the Yankees Sunday, and he's a tough guy who brings a toughness to that lineup.
Do you think Crawford's strong defense, speed and range are being wasted a little in Fenway's left field? Have/should the Sox considered shifting him to right field, where there's so much more ground to cover?
John, Irvington, N.Y.
Doesn't have the arm strength for right field and the short left field actually suits his arm. Maybe he's wasted in left at Fenway in terms of covering, but he covers a lot of ground on the road.
Really enjoy reading you and your colleagues's articles. Not much Sox updates around my part. You wrote in your last mailbag that the Sox knew what they had all along with Buchholz's injury, but I find that hard to believe. Why would they have him throwing long toss and other activities with a stress fracture in his back? Do you think that the "genius" of the Sox is overestimated when it comes to the front office and even the value or skill level of prospects?
Andrew, Raleigh, N.C.
They had received assurance from their medical people that he couldn't hurt himself any more by playing long toss. The back is healing fine from what I'm told. I still don't believe he'll be back this season.
Would the emergence of Ryan Lavarnway as a top hitting prospect who would provide lots of flexibility since he can catch, play first base (presumably) and DH, contribute to the Red Sox not re-signing Papi next year? It would be hard to let Ortiz go given his place in Boston lore, but the Sox are clearly hamstrung when they play interleague games on the road.
Tim Ware, Plano, Texas
Wrote about this topic in my Sunday Baseball Notes column. I think they will re-sign Ortiz and Lavarnway will be used as a third catcher/DH. Otherwise he's trade bait.
Who do you like in the AL Central? Indians seem pretty good. What do you think of their chances? Detroit has a bit of a lead but it's only August. Texas or Cleveland would be a tough opponent come playoff time.
Like the Tiger lineup better, and of course the horse at the start of the rotation (Justin Verlander) would be huge for the Tigers in the playoffs. I thought Cleveland would have faded by now. They haven't. Good for them. I just am not buying that they can hold on to win the AL Central division.
Looking ahead, if the Sox go on to face the Yankees in the ALCS what would be the pitching matchups?
Daniel Brodsky, Tenafly
Just a guess of course. Sabathia vs. Beckett, Nova vs. Lester, Colon vs. Lackey, Garcia vs. Bedard. Nova has been very effective and we'll have to see what Hughes does the rest of the way.
Why does Francona bat Gonzalez third and Youk fourth? Since Gonzalez is the better hitter, wouldn't it make more sense to switch them so Gonzalez could "protect" Youk? Or is Francona just in love with the L-R-L-R lineup?
Kevin, Nashua, NH
I'm one of those people who think your best hitter should hit third. You also have a run of LH hitters if Gonzo is fourth with Ortiz and Crawford.
Please help settle an argument that has been going on. Even with all of Ellsbury's heroics and wonderful season, if you were the Sox GM and Seattle called and offered you Felix Hernadez for Ellsbury and a prospect would you do it?
Drew, Conyngham, Penn.
Yes. Yes. Yes.