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So far, it looks like the Red Sox are sticking to the script with veteran Vicente Padilla agreeing to a minor league deal to go along with Aaron Cook and Carlos Silva.
Most fans who have expressed their opinions to this reporter would like to see Roy Oswalt in the fold, or for the team to complete a deal with the Cubs for Matt Garza.
We also have our first, and probably our last, Ryan Sweeney-Fred Lynn comparison.
Here's this week's Q&A:
Does it not make way more sense to see what develops and make a trade in July (or sooner if needed) than to follow what the Yankees did with a knee-jerk reaction and sign Roy Oswalt? Last year after we signed Crawford and Gonzalez the Yankees did not jump off the bridge, they followed through on their plan, and how did they do?
Mike, Fredericton, New Brunswick
You're a wise man, Mike. Of course you don't react to everything the Yankees do, but you always have to match up. You're looking at two of your biggest rivals -- Yankees and Tampa Bay -- sitting there with potentially eight very good starting pitchers. I understand they're bringing in low-cost types like Carlos Silva, Vicente Padilla, Aaron Cook, and that Daniel Bard and/or Alfredo Aceves could be very good. I think everyone would feel better if they had one more "sure thing" in the rotation.
When a team trades a high-salary player to make payroll flexibility and "eats" part of the contract, which portion of the contract counts toward the luxury tax of which team? For example, if the Cubs trade Soriano to the Yankees and agree to pay $30 million, does that $30 million count toward the Yankees payroll, the Cubs payroll, or neither when calculating the luxury tax?
Dylan, Chalatenango, El Salvador
It's my understanding it would count against the Cubs' payroll. Whatever the Yankees would be assuming would go on theirs.
Can the Red Sox restructure contracts like John Lackey's in order to free up money this year to get another starter and not exceed the luxury tax? Or, is restructuring contracts not allowed in MLB?
Larry, Ellicott City, Md.
There would never be restructuring like there is in the NFL. The Players Association would never allow that in baseball. That was part of the reason the Alex Rodriguez deal to the Red Sox fell through about 10 years back. Lackey is gone for the year with Tommy John surgery. He will not pitch this year.
Am I thinking wrong when I seem to see a great resemblance between Fred Lynn and Ryan Sweeney? They both have the same career batting average, 283. I think Sweeney is the superior player. No one thought of using a platoon with Lynn. Why the obsession with the right field position as one of platoon?
Vicente, Cali, Colombia
I think you are off base. Sweeney is a big guy with no power and has never proven anything. Lynn was a graceful player -- a rookie of the year and MVP -- who probably didn't get the most out of his abilities, but he had a ton of them. Doesn't come close to Lynn's power and he certainly can't play center field like Lynn. The hope is his power will emerge, but no signs of it.
Is it safe to assume that the Tim Wakefield era is over in Boston?
John, Cohasset, Mass.
Not sure it's safe to assume that his tenure with Boston is over. Even if they don't sign him right now, what prevents them from bringing him back in May or June or even after the All-Star break if they need a starter? He could always be one of those half-season veteran pitchers.
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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
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.
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?
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
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?
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.