For the life of me, I cannot understand the decision to start Kyle Weiland in the first game of the Rays series. They did not need a last-minute starter, because there was ample time to prepare for someone like Aceves or Beckett to be ready. While the result of any game has to be determined on the field, the decision to start Weiland was running up a white flag to me. I do not have anything against Weiland personally, he is just an average Triple A pitcher thrown into one of the most important games of the season. I suppose the excuse is that Aceves isn't stretched out enough, and he's more valuable in the bullpen. I think that is hogwash.
Dick, Bonita Springs, Fla.
Thereís no question Weiland isnít ready, but as Iíve written on a few occasions, they donít have anyone else. I suppose they could give Junichi Tazawa a start and heíd fare just as well as Weiland. The Red Sox decided that Aceves was too valuable in the bullpen to move to starter. As for Beckett, they pitched him when they thought he was ready to pitch and I canít argue with that. They know those timetables better than I do.
Crawford had some great years with Tampa batting second. Every chance Francona had to put him in his favorite position, he completely ignored him. Yes I love Ellsbury and Pedroia one and two, but for some reason when Youk or Ortiz are out, the only batter Francona can find is Pedroia. Why has he never used Crawford batting second during these periods to try and get his confidence going? This manager can cost us a playoff and even a World Series this year. Felix Doubront started a few qood games in the past and should have pitched on Sept. 15 in place of Weiland, but Tito runs the club.
Robert, Miramar Beach Fla.
I agree with batting Crawford second. Why not return him to his comfort zone, especially with Youkilis out and Pedroia batting cleanup? I disagree on Doubront. Heís done nothing to deserve earning a start, including not having a very good Triple A year. At least Weiland pitched well at Triple A.
The Sox hitters seem very susceptible to the changeup. The Rays pitchers use this pitch a lot against them. They also seem to double up with it frequently. Why don't the hitters adjust and look for it? I know it is not as easy as it sounds, but when you are ahead in the count or early in the count, shouldn't they look for the change?
K., Bristol, Va.
Donít really know how to answer that. Most hitters are susceptible to the changeup and not sure the Red Sox are any worse than anyone else. In fact, their offensive stats are close to the top in just about every category, so it canít be that bad.
You seem to talk to scouts a lot. Why do they say Crawford has been such a bust?
Raffi, Sudbury, Mass.
Everyone I speak to point to his complicated swing. Too many moving parts. But the answer to that is heís always had that swing and heís hit .300 over his career with it. Red Sox think heís pressing. The self-scouting the Sox have done donít point to any major problems. Bat speed isnít any slower and thatís always the first sign of decline. I guess nobody really knows. I doubt Crawford knows.
When do you think the Red Sox will dump Francona? This team should win easily , instead they win despite Francona, but I have seen lately a malaise with the team that can only be seen as a spirit or passion that is missing? Why are there so many injuries? Someone's head has to roll, manager or trainer or both.
Roland, Harrisburg, NC
I hate making excuses, but theyíve had pitching injuries and those are hard to overcome. Having said that, they have underperforming players like John Lackey, Carl Crawford and havenít had much in right field. Youkilisí injury hasnít helped. They also didnít get any kind of a charge from a good young player. Reddick was fine, but not the spark that a guy like Ellsbury provided in 2007. As for injuries, not sure how you can prevent them. Some guys need to be better conditioned, but sprained ankles, back injuries, not sure how you can eliminate those.