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We started this mailbag several weeks ago and the same issue remains -- compensation for allowing former general manager Theo Epstein to leave for the Cubs. The commissioner's office feels it will likely render a decision sooner rather than later. We're waiting.
It's the issue that's struck a nerve with many fans in Red Sox Nation. After all, the Cubs were allowed to take Epstein in exchange for "significant compensation." The sides just couldn't agree on the meaning of significant, but the commissioner will make that determination.
Fans still seem concerned about Boston's pitching depth. And gosh darn, there's a fellow from Colombia who still feels Ryan Sweeney is a comparable player to Fred Lynn. I don't think he's kidding.
Thank you to all of the nice people who came over to say hello at the Hot Stove Cool Music roundtable discussion on Monday, which concentrated on the divide between small market and large market teams. Epstein, Cherington, Pirates GM Neal Huntington, MLB Network's Sean Casey and Yankees centerfielder Curtis Granderson all did a pretty good job. Moderator Peter Gammons really kept the questions and dialogue flowing. And a lot of money was raised for Paul and Theo Epstein's Foundation to be Named Later, which does great work with underprivileged children in the Boston area.
Here's the bag:
Is Cody Ross a good player?
Alex, Washington, DC
I've always liked Ross' dirt dog style. He has holes in his swing, but I think he is an everyday player with decent power which should show up at Fenway especially. He obviously has a flare for the dramatic, as he showed in the 2010 postseason. Didn't have the best of years in 2011, but at $3 million this was one of those good value signings.
1. Fred Lynn was not that graceful. He had a strange stride. 2. Ryan Sweeney has power. He did not play in Fenway, which was the reason Lynn prospered with power. Out of Fenway, Lynn declined. 3. I think Sweeney is a much better center fielder than you credit him with. He also has a strong arm. Graceful? Sweeney is very athletic and seem to be able to do things Lynn could not do. Prior to 2011, no one thought Ellsbury had power. This season will tell. I am pleased that Cody Ross was added.
Vicente, Colombia, Calif
We're continuing a debate from the last time when I disagreed with your comparison of Ryan Sweeney to Fred Lynn. I disagree with you again. Lynn WAS graceful. I agree that outside of Fenway, Lynn wasn't as good of a player. But he had a nice long, productive career outside of Boston as well.
Why the negative thoughts about the upcoming season? The Sox were arguably the best team in MLB for three months. Youkilis missed a huge chunk of time. Crawford had the worst season of his career. My point is that with all that went wrong, this team still won 90 games.
Steve, Waterbury, Vt.
I agree they will be a very good offensive team. But as you pointed out, the pitching has major question marks. Your lineup can be gangbusters, but if you don't have pitching and pitching depth to back it up, it won't be enough. As far as conditioning, they wouldn't dare show up out of shape this year, would they?
What is the Red Sox' rationale for the outrageously extravagant salary for Carl Crawford? He doesn't live up to the standards of Jacoby Ellsbury.
Carl Crawford set nine years worth of standards before receiving his salary. Ellsbury has had one outstanding season, but he, too, will be paid well this year ($7.9 million) and in the years to come.
Are the Red Sox interested in any of these relievers: Rich Harden, Chad Quall, Mike Gonzalez, Koji Uehara, or Hong-Chin Kuo?
Donald, Johnson City, NY
Yes on Harden, Gonzalez and Uehara, but no on Kuo. Qualls signed with Philly.
I know this has probably been asked before, but why can't the Sox send one or two prospects to the Cubs in exchange for Matt Garza? The longer this continues, the more it looks like Epstein is trying to screw them out of any real compensation.
Bob, Wilmington. N.C.
They tried to get Garza as compensation to no avail. They have also inquired about a deal for Garza, but aren't willing to give up the three prospects Theo Epstein would want. The issue is in the hands of the commissioner. Theo and Ben Cherington have nothing to do with what's decided from here on out.
Where are the comparisons between the last place April Sox and the collapse in September? Was it a sign of poor preparation or overconfidence?
Great question, Bob. I thought they were underprepared in spring training last year. There was no sense of urgency and it showed up at the start of the season. The September collapse was a different animal. They just couldn't stop the skid. They almost realized there was nothing they could do given the fact they had little to no pitching.
What is the process for Bud Selig to choose the compensation for Theo Epstein? Does each team supply a list of desired players? It seems to me that it could best be handled by each team proposing a single compensation package, with the commissioner then limited to picking either one side's offer or the other's, much like salary arbitration is decided. However, I get the impression he has carte blanche to pick whatever player or players he desires. Is this correct?
Rocky, Charlottesville, Va.
My information is that a list of players has been submitted by both sides and Selig and/or his team of people will make the decision. If the sides decided that the Red Sox should receive "significant compensation" for allowing Epstein to exit his contract a year ahead of time, then Selig will decide what "significant" is. The Sox and Cubs have been at odds over the meaning of significant.
Why don't the Red Sox go after Edwin Jackson? The guy is durable and would love to be back in the AL East. I say stop the nonsense and grab the guy before someone else does.
Frances, Bradenton, Fla.
They are after Jackson, but at their price. They have offered a one-year deal that we know of and may have also offered a multi-year deal (though that is unconfirmed). The Red Sox really don't want a multi-year commitment with another starting pitcher. They have enough of them including with John Lackey. They like Jackson. Bobby Valentine likes Jackson, but it's going to take Jackson to say I'll go to Boston for a year and see if I can improve my value like Adrian Beltre did.
With the DH market being well below what Ortiz is asking for and arbitration awards being non-guaranteed, is there any chance the Sox will part ways with Ortiz if he wins his case?
Tough to part ways with such a huge part of the offense. He's still very good. They'll likely settle in the $14-$15 million range and be happy about it. He's still a force as a hitter.
What are the chances the Sox sign Tim Wakefield and make him into some sort of specialist, a seventh-inning guy?
I think they've tried various roles with Wakefield. The best role is starting pitcher. As Wake pointed out to the Florida Times-Union recently, he's contemplating several things, including retirement, coming to camp as a non-roster player or joining another team. I'm sure we'll hear something soon.
Would you please explain the significance of the "non-guaranteed" contracts signed by Salty, Ells and Bard? I thought all MLB contracts were guaranteed. Under what circumstances would these contracts not be honored?
Barb, Chapel Hill, N.C.
The contract is only fully guaranteed for arbitration-eligible players until they set foot on the playing field that season. Obviously players with multi-year deals have guaranteed contracts.
"A Player whose Contract is terminated by a Club under paragraph 7(b)(2) of the Uniform Player's Contract for failure to exhibit sufficient skill or competitive ability shall be entitled to receive termination pay from the Club in an amount equal to thirty (30) days' payment at the rate stipulated in paragraph 2 of his Contract, if the termination occurs during spring training but on or before the 16th day prior to the start of the championship season. If the termination occurs during spring training, but subsequent to the 16th day prior to the start of the championship season, the Player's termination pay shall be in an amount equal to forty-five (45) days' payment at the rate stipulated in paragraph 2 of his Contract."