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Ask Nick: Do Red Sox miss Victor Martinez?

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff  September 26, 2011 09:19 AM

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When will Tito stop playing people who haven't produced? He is way too loyal to players who have clearly lost it, and it may cost him the playoff berth this year. I wouldn't be surprised to see J.D. Drew back in the lineup.
Tony, Midvale
Francona has a method to the way he manages and like he said this week, "I have to be true to myself.Ē Heís trying to be consistent as a manager and in the decisions he makes. He feels if heís the tough guy, players will see through that. So he manages each day like he always does, whether good times or bad. I donít have a problem with the boss being consistent and backing his players/employees. I do believe that sometimes you do have to get out of your comfort zone and kick some behind. I think that would actually get the players attention, because heís not usually like that. As for playing guys who donít produce, he always thinks that if he stays with a guy one day, two days longer, that guy will snap out of it. To be honest, thatís worked more than it hasnít worked.

Given the injury hits the Sox have taken over past 75 days (since All-Star break), do you think conditioning in general has played a factor in their demise?
Ken, Orleans, Mass.
Conditioning can be a factor if itís causing players to break down, especially at the end of the season. And that leads to inferior players taking the field at the most crucial time. I think the Sox owners obviously feel itís an issue.

It obvious that some players have to move this off-season. Do you think that the Rangers would have any interest in John Lackey? He seems to pitch halfway decent in the hot weather and being a Texas native, he might become motivated and act like a top of the line starter.
Steve, Tarpon Springs,Fla.
Not sure the Red Sox could snooker into anyone taking Lackey unless it was a deal for another underachiever with a big contract like a Carlos Zambrano or Barry Zito. But why do that? I think they can only hope he gets better. And who knows? He might.

This late season collapse proves one thing very clearly. The Red Sox desperately need a legitimate ace in their rotation. With that in mind, would a package of say Lester, Youkilis and Iglesias be enough to pry Felix Hernandez from the Mariners? The Sox could then sign C.J. Wilson or Mark Buherle to fill Lester's spot. This would give them a front four of Hernandez, Buchholz, Beckett, and either Wilson or Buherle. I also think since Crawford's salary makes him virtually untradeable, why not see if the Dodgers would deal Matt Kemp for Ellsbury straight up? This would give them a legit righthanded power threat (without sacrificing speed -- Kemp has 40 steals) as well as someone who can actually throw people out from center field.
Mark, Lynn,Mass.
You have a good mind for baseball, Mark. I love the Kemp idea. I think the Red Sox have tried so hard to obtain King Felix for so long that they feel theyíre banging their heads against the wall trying to make it happen. Doesnít appear as if the Mariners would deal him because theyíve received some whopper offers and never pulled the trigger. I do believe they will be a player for C.J. Wilson.

How about putting Weiland, who seems effective and has good velocity for a couple of innings, in the bullpen and putting Aceves in the rotation?
Ed, Stratford, Conn.
Amen

Over the course of the season, numerous times with Ellsbury on first and no outs, why don't they bunt him to second with your No. 3 hitter, a lefty coming up? The manager needs to know the importance of advancing the runner.
Jim, Braintree, Mass.
Youíre certainly right. Just not a small ball team, I guess.

Haven't seen Johnny Pesky around the Sox this year. Is he okay?
Doug, Auburn
Johnny is in an assisted living facility now. He doesnít get around as well as he used to, but still a wonderful, cheerful human being. Miss seeing him around the ballpark because weíd always chat for 15-20 minutes most every day.

With the release of Moneyball, it seems to me the lovefest for Billy Beane is overboard. He had Hudson, Mulder, Zito, Street, Harden, Blanton and Mark Redman and ended up with some minor leaguers and Jason Kendall. Throw in that he traded Carlos Gonzalez for Matt Holiday and I think it is obvious that he can't carry Andrew Friedman's briefcase. What is your opinion of Beane's performance as GM at Oakland?
Billy, Largo, Fla
I think one of the criticisms of Billy was always that he didnít win the big prize. Heís developed a lot of talent, though, but part of the problem is as a small market team, heís had to trade away his top talent and sometimes the return hasnít been great. But would I hire him as my GM? Absolutely. I think he would do a great job in a place where he could spend some money.

So, after murdering some pretty good pitching (ostensibly), the Rays go to Toronto and get three hits. My question, why does this team of banjos hit so well against the Sox? Bad scouting? Or, are the Sox pitchers directed to be too cute around the corners (even when playing the weak hitting teams) and thus play right into the hands of the swinging teams?
Jeff, Stoneham Mass.
When you throw fastballs down the middle of the plate, why wouldnít they hit Red Sox pitching? I mean, this isnít rocket science. You can see that Sox pitchers make mistake after mistake and it never stops.

Recently heard some Fox announcers talking about an interview they did with Adrian Gonzalez. Is there any info available regarding him being hampered by the surgically repaired shoulder as reported. Thanks Submit Submit
Bob, Melbourne Fla.
Thereís been some fatigue in the shoulder, but nothing major.

Yankees catcher Russell Martin used harsh words like hate. Why doesn't he just admit that the Red Sox passed on him because of health issues. I am sure he was willing to come to Boston before Boston said no.
Frances, Bradenton, Fla.
Well, they didnít pass on him. They offered him a minor league deal with a chance to earn a major league salary. I donít mind Yankee-Red Sox players going at each other. Thatís the way it should be. Itís too civilized. I like the old days better when Fisk and Munson fought.

Which of the following factors do you think is the biggest reason for Carl Crawford's decline in stolen bases:
a. Not on base as often.
b. Playing in more lopsided games. We're either 6 runs up or 6 runs down.
c. The hamstring ailment.
d. Not being able to steal bases against the Red Sox.
Scott, Harrisburg, Penn.
Obviously A. He simply hasnít hit well enough and hasnít been able to use his skills Ė namely his speed. I must say heís been disappointing in the field. I donít see the Gold Glove guy.

Do you think that the Red Sox would consider a trade of Lackey for Zambrano and a second one of Ellsbury to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Upton, who could balance their righthanded and lefthanded outfielders for next year.
Jorge, Mexico City
Addressed the Zambrano-Lackey thing earlier. You could do it but why? Then youíd have a guy who is tough to control in Zambrano who could potentially be disruptive to your team. Youíre better off crossing your fingers on Lackey. Upton-for-Ellsbury would help your righthanded cause. Not sure the D-Backs would do that now. Last winter, the D-Backs wanted Buchholz for Upton and the Sox wouldnít do it.

Wouldn't it make more sense for an underachieving bullpen to spend more time watching the game and the hitters, preparing mentally for an appearance, and at least act like they are as interested in the game as the bench players do? I can't tell you how irritating it is to watch them play spoons and then blow a lead. I spend much money paying for the MLB package, the feed from NESN, and traveling to Texas and Kansas City to watch them and would greatly appreciate the same passion by the pitching staff.
Brian, Denver
Brian, Iím not sure that stuff is unique to the Red Sox . Bullpens tend to do these crazy rituals during games, but I understand what youíre saying. In these times, itís tough to watch guys goofing around. I know theyíre trying to stay loose and they all see it as a bonding time. I donít care if they do it as long as they perform.

I haven't been able to get over this one: Why did the Red Sox not acquire both Erik Bedard and Rich Harden on July 31?
Edward, East Boston
I think the answer is simple: at the end of July you just canít anticipate the breakdowns they have had in September. They took a chance on Bedard, who is a guy who tends to breakdown, and so why take two guys who break down? In both cases youíre trying to find an injury-prone guy who can stay healthy for a few weeks.

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