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Ask Nick: Will Crawford deal affect Red Sox' ability to sign Ellsbury?

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff  January 10, 2012 03:17 PM

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Do you think the Red Sox are holding out for next year's heavy free-agent class?
James, Keller, Texas
You can see it from their point of view -- they invested about $300 million in Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez. Where did it get them? Tampa Bay gets by with a fraction of that. They chose low-cost, good players as free agents and try to build from within. Both the Red Sox and Yankees want to do it that way. So I guess they're trying it. It really tests their skill as executives and baseball people.

I have really liked what GM Ben Cherington has done with the team so far this offseason. He has left the lineup, which for the most part was outstanding and productive last year, intact and focused on other areas like the bullpen. Yet fans continue to grumble. Have Boston fans come to expect to see high-priced free agent and are no longer as educated about other quality, although maybe not as well known, players?
Dan, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Cherington has taken over at an interesting time. The ownership gave him a budget and he's doing his best to stay within it. I know Theo Epstein had it that way at times, but he'd always convince ownership to stretch a little bit if he knew there was a player out there who could really help the team. Cherington hasn't felt compelled to do that yet. He feels he has the lineup to win, now he just has to get the right mix in the pitching department and he's tried to do it with trades for Mark Melancon and Andrew Bailey. It's not easy to replace Jonathan Papelbon, but we're going find out if he has.

I know switching positions isn't as easy as some fans think, but since the Sox are looking for a righthanded hitting right fielder with pop, and they have three youngish (non-Tek) catchers, there seems a logical convergence here. Why not try Ryan Lavarnway in the outfield (either right or left and move Crawford to right). Sure, he's catcher-slow, but with Ellsbury and Crawford out there, can't they cheat a bit to reduce how much he has to patrol? Also doesn't he have a decent arm?
Seth, Kensington, Md.
I think it's his slowness. And I know Barry Bonds played like a statue in the end in San Francisco and Manny Ramirez played left field and all that. I think that would be the reason. Right field at Fenway is too big. I suppose you could hide him in left. I've written about Crawford moving to right, but he may be unwilling to do it. He seems very set in his ways.

Matt Garza pitching for the Red Sox sounds mighty good to me. Do you think the Cubs would accept two top prospects and one average prospect (in consideration of the Cub obligation for Theo)?
Dick, Bonita Springs, Fla.
I would do something like that for Garza, yes. I think Theo wants three guys from the A list and he's going to be especially tougher with the Sox because he knows who those guys are. Would love to see it. I'd give up any of those prospects you mentioned for Garza.

Do you think the Red Sox could think about re-signing Johnny Damon to platoon in right field?
Sid, Williamstown
It would be awesome to have Johnny Damon on this team. Precisely the personality they need in the clubhouse to lead as he did in 2004. But I'm afraid he has no arm and he's a lefthanded hitter.

Who do you think will be the Red Sox' ace in the 2012 season?
Gianna, Boston
I'm gonna guess Clay Buchholz. It's his time.

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