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Ask Nick: Should Red Sox wait to respond to Yankees' moves?

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff  January 17, 2012 08:35 AM

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I continue to be mystified by the statement that the Red Sox overspent last year and now this year can't afford to sign middle-of-the-road free agents. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this the same team ownership that told us they made trades and free agent signings with a view toward not only this season, but as part of long term planning?
Tom, Pahrump, Nev.
I, like John Henry, didn't think they needed to sign Carl Crawford. I would have saved my money. But I disagree about not projecting ahead. They're a major corporation and do what all major corporations do -- they have short-term and long-term projections. I just think there are some years -- and every team does it -- you stay quiet and hope for the best with what you have. Some teams go into a season trying to get by until they have to make a big midseason deal.

General manager Ben Cherington seems so far to have received a free pass from you and other members of the usually critical Globe press corps. However, as he continues to fiddle while the Sox go down in flames, is it not time to re-evaluate his performance?
Jim, New York, NY
Not sure how you can project that the Red Sox have lost the 2012 season already. I thought they'd win it all after obtaining Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez. Why should Tampa Bay ever seriously contend with their payroll? But they do. I don't think a $170 million payroll means you're not serious about winning. Yes, John Henry has many other interests, including a soccer team, but so what? As long as he operates them both the right way, who cares what he owns? Many rich people own multiple businesses and some own multiple professional sports teams. As for Ben Cherington, no games have been played under his regime. When that happens, we'll be ready for whatever analysis we need to render.

The Yankees certainly distanced themselves from the Red Sox with the acquisitions of Hiroki Kuroda and Michael Pineda. The Sox are now no better than third in the division and Toronto is getting better. It would seem the Red Sox are now forced to make a significant acquisition either by trade or through free agency. This is a test for the ownership. Are they going to live up to their promises to the Red Sox fans or whine some more?
Dick, Bonita Springs, Fla.
What was their promise to Red Sox fans? To win a championship, I think. They won two. Not getting where this ownership backlash is coming from. Their payroll is huge. It's not like they're not spending a lot of money on player salaries. The problem has been picking the right players and having them stay healthy.

Any chance the Sox sign Prince Fielder and move Adrian Gonzalez to right field?
Bob, Watertown, Mass.
No.

Is Ben Cherrington sleeping or hogtied by The Trio's do not spend policy?
Jim, Randolph, Mass.
I think Ben is sticking to the script at this point. I have no idea whether he's asked ownership if he can extend the budget if he feels strongly about signing a certain player like Theo used to do. He's a first-year GM, but when you get into that spot you always want to prove yourself. There's no better way to do that then to keep costs low and hit on low-cost players. That makes you look really good. Andrew Friedman does it well in Tampa Bay. The Twins did it well for many years until they started spending some money.

Is it possible the Red Sox will sign Pedro Martinez to a one-day minor league contract so he could technically retire as a Red Sox, like they did for Nomar Garciaparra?
Lloyd, Philippines
I'd like to see them do what I suggested in my Sunday Baseball Notes, bring him into spring training as a special instructor. I like your idea, too.

The Red Sox really only have three bad contracts on their roster if you exclude Carl Crawford, as most insiders believe he's going to bounce back this season. Do you think ownership has a responsibility to the Red Sox fans to bite the bullet this season and sign or trade for a legitimate fourth starter in either Oswalt, Jackson or Garza?
Rob, Fort Myers, Fla.

They may be trying to avoid the luxury tax, but I'm not sure they will. They, in fact, don't think they will either. Sure, I think they need an Oswalt or Garza, but they're also hoping to get assistance from Bard, who could be a very good starter given how hard he throws; get lucky with one of the low-cost guys, which of course the Yankees did with Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon last season, and hope one of their young pitchers -- Felix Doubront or Junichi Tazawa -- emerges to take a No. 5 spot.

Why would Jason Varitek agree to take the risk of a very unlikely return to the Red Sox? Wouldn't he be better off finding a job elsewhere?
Pam, Silver Spring, Md.
I agree. If I were him, I wouldn't accept it and either retire a Red Sox or move to another team.

Will it be a better option if the Red Sox ask MLB commissioner Bud Selig to settle the compensation talks for Theo Epstein?
Lloyd, Philippines
I get the feeling the commissioner has thrown it back at them and told them to get this straightened out on their own. MLB is avoiding this one because it could draw a roadmap that could bite them in the future depending on how substantial or how unsubstantial the compensation is.

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