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The second half started great with series wins over Tampa Bay and Chicago, but itís gone south once again. They never seem to be able to get over the hump.
The concerns are obviously Jon Lester and Josh Beckett. As long as your 1-2 pitchers perform like this Ėthe Sox are 15-31 when Lester and Beckett have taken the mound since Sept. 1, then nothing good will happen with this team.
Yes, they are working hard trying to correct both Beckettís first-inning issues and Lesterís overall problems. I can see them working. Whether itís good enough to solve it in time is another issue. The Red Sox got an initial bump from the returns of Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford, but not so much lately.
Itís obviously trade time, and when you look out and see who can really help this team get over the hump, it's hard to find too many players who could do that. King Felix could. But he may not be walking through those clubhouse doors on Yawkey Way. Josh Johnson? Hanley Ramirez?
Maybe, if things continue to go poorly, itís time to sell.
Do you feel that either Beckett or Lester has to go, preferably Beckett? They are both performing at an alarmingly bad level and something needs to be done to shake up this team.
Angelo, Coconut Creek, Fla.
I agree something needs to be done to shake things up, but I donít let them go unless I get proper value back. If they start pitching well again, theyíre both valuable. There are very few pitchers who perform consistently well year in and year out. Itís the nature of the beast.
With management stating Ben Cherington is empowered to make "bold" moves at the trade deadline, and starting pitching being an obvious issue, do you think there's any realistic possibility of a deal centered around Jon Lester and King Felix?
Ryan, Kernersville, NC
King Felix would be the biggest prize of all. Would love to see it. Mariners management has been consistent that theyíre not trading him for a few years now. But they could definitely solve three or four needs by dealing him. So far theyíre resisting what Iím sure is a daily temptation.
In my original question about the alleged mutiny in the Sox clubhouse, I mentioned that I am shocked. My question now is this: Is there not an official guide on proper behavior of these Sox players? If so, does it not have a clause about respect for the manager and other employees of the Sox?
Vicente, Cali, Colombia
Where did ďmutinyĒ come from? Iím in there every day. Thereís no mutiny. Tough question to answer when you begin with something thatís not true, but yes of course thereís proper behavior required. Every team, every manager has his set of rules that must be followed. I think this team follows the rules.
I have noticed most of the year that John Lackey has been in the dugout and wondered why you or none of the other media has mentioned this? Could Lackey's presence be a negative influence on Beckett and Lester?
John, Torrington, Conn.
Weíve mentioned it. We havenít dwelled on it, but I see him every day. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, a player with his service time has the right to stay with the team if he so chooses while heís rehabbing if heís able to do his normal rehab routine. Heís in the throwing process right now so he can do that with the team. I have no idea if heís a negative influence. Heís actually popular with his teammates, but it wouldnít hurt to break that trio up.
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There are two main factors that determine the success of a manager -- where a team is in the standings and the atmosphere in the clubhouse. Based on the latter, when is the front office going to make the switch to Gene Lamont?
Kurt, Bristol, Penn.
I think the 23 injured players, more than any team in baseball, this year is a factor too. I donít sense any horrible clubhouse other than the fact that losing takes its toll and I think it needs some tweaking with chemistry, which was never addressed from late last season except that Kevin Youkilis was shipped out. Itís always tough to do when you have big contracts that are hard to move. I donít think Gene Lamont, Dale Sveum or Terry Francona would have cracked the problem. But the manager usually takes the fall.
Why aren't the Sox doing surgery on Carl Crawford now rather than taking a chance on further or more serious injury by playing him?
Gary, San Antonio, Jalisco, Mexico
Well, I think first of all, theyíre trying to win this year and believe with the second wild card available, if they ever got hot, theyíd be able to capture it. Secondly, the player wants to keep playing. Surgery is up to him, nobody else. Itís obvious heís having problems throwing, but as long as he wants to play heís going to play.
Will the Sox consider trading Mike Aviles to a team needing help at shortstop or utility to make room for Jose Iglesias? Iglesias' glove would help the Sox pitching, which would also be a confidence boost for the pitchers. And while he may be inferior to Aviles with the bat, it is only a strong April that makes Aviles' numbers look strong.
Jeff, Mechanicsburg, Penn.
Well, thatís interesting. I suppose at some point heíll come up and if Avilesí turf toe doesnít improve, you may see it. I think with Xander Bogaerts and Deven Marrero coming up, Iglesias himself may even be trade bait during this trading period.
With someone like Daniel Nava, whose batting right vs. batting left numbers are so far apart, it seems to me sticking to hitting from the same side for righties and lefties makes more sense than continuing to try and switch hit.
Rich, Tallahassee, Fla.
Thatís always discussed, even with a guy like Jarrod Saltalamacchia. But the advantage is itís still better to have a switch hitter because it creates havoc with opposing pitching moves. Itís rare to find a Carlos Beltran or Chipper Jones who is good from both sides of the plate. They spend years becoming switch hitters, and to ask them to just hit from one side after all the work they do is pretty tough. Most of the time they donít play when a lefthander is pitching anyway.
How is Hanley Ramirez going to do anything for this team situation with the Sox? Seems to me that with Valentine at the helm you need dirt doggers who want to play their manager's style of baseball, a good bullpen (check), and better than average starting pitching (vacant). So unless we add many parts to this trade and not give up young prospects for Hanley, I dont see how this does anything but possibly add another guy who may not listen to anyone but his ego.
I agree with your assessment. I think you have to fit the style of managing with the player just as you do in football. When Pete Carroll came into New England for instance, he had Bill Parcellsí players and it didnít work. Same is true in baseball. The type of players you're referring to are exactly what Valentine needs. As for Hanley, Iíve never been impressed with his attitude, but heís one of their guys and there was a lot of reluctance to deal him when they did.
Is it possible that Lester's cancer is back and he isn't saying anything? This would be one issue that may be wrong with Lester.
Bob, Keene, NH
Oh God, wouldnít touch that one. I sure hope not.