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Red Sox fans are still concerned about first base, pitching and whether the Red Sox have done enough to prepare for next season in this week’s mailbag.
The team continues to look at options for first base (mostly as a backup plan) and into trade possibilities considering they have depth in the bullpen and at catcher.
The Sox are also searching for another starting pitcher as depth which is why they’ve been looking at Javier Vazquez, Carl Pavano, and others they can sign to a minor-league deal with a major-league invite.
I am curious what grade you would give Ben Cherington as the Red Sox general manager. Personally I haven't been happy and expected a whole lot more. C-minus here. He messed up with the Andrew Bailey/Josh Reddick trade. Missed out on the big trade that Toronto benefited from. Missed out on the Tampa/KC trade that landed a potential cornerstone player in Wil Myers. Missed out on the Seattle/LAA trade on either end. (Kendrys Morales or Jason Vargas, take your pick).
And for the second straight off season Ben seems to believe his starting rotation is solid even though no one else does. How much longer do we have to wish and hope Lester and Clay Buchholz will be the 1-2 pitchers? Because I don't believe they are or ever will be and I would have done whatever it took to get Cliff Lee from Philly, including trading Lester to get him. Oh, and why cant we have a real first baseman?
-- Wendy, Derry, New Hampshire
Well, I’m curious for sure about the philosophy this offseason and where it takes them. I’ve received a lot of positive feedback from people in baseball who believe Cherington did a great job this offseason signing good value/character players. So I’ve said this entire offseason, I’m not going to pass judgment until I see it in action. I thought they should have signed an impact player either as a pitcher or positional player. That’s why I thought Josh Hamilton would have been perfect in this lineup.
With the Mike Napoli situation still being resolved, would it not be in the best interest to check out other options such as Justin Smoak to play first base? The Mariners have a need for some relief pitchers and we need a first baseman. Do you believe that this could help us by getting a young first baseman who is a switch hitter and would be an upgrade defensively over Napoli? I know that offensively Napoli may have the edge now, but I feel that Smoak would help us tremendously.
-- Bruce, Concord, N.C.
Good idea. They’ve checked into all of those options. I thought Lance Berkman would have been tremendous, but he signed with Texas. They will add Napoli and probably one more hitter who can play first base and the outfield. That’s why they worked out Bobby Abreu and have explored guys like Nick Johnson and Casey Kotchman.
What ever happened to Anthony Ranaudo? He was heralded as a great prospect but he seems to have faded from view.
-- Al, Pensacola, Florida.
Still in the system. Like any young pitcher he faced some growing pains and had to learn to get over them. Will probably start the season back in Double A.
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Ben Cherington has done a fair job of patchwork (albeit rather pricey), but they still did not get an impact player.They need a Giancarlo Stanton or Justin Upton. I think they'd have to mortgage the farm for Stanton, but they should be willing to part with Jackie Bradley Jr., Matt Barnes, and Jose Iglesias in a package for Justin Upton. I'd like to see them retain Xander Bogaerts, though. Your thoughts?
-- Charlie, Trumbull, Connecticut
I’ve said I’d mortgage the future for Stanton but not for Upton. I think Upton’s play is too erratic.
Given that the Red Sox gave minor league shots to Kevin Millwood and Mark Prior the past couple of seasons, with Jair Jurrjens and Jonathan Sanchez still in free agency limbo, might the Sox consider signing one of these former rising pitchers to a minor league deal as a project? They're both young and you never have enough pitching.
-- Jim, Westford
Sure. You’ll likely see them add one or two more guys for depth which is why they’ve been scouting Javier Vazquez, who is trying to make a comeback. You have guys like Roy Oswalt, Brandon Webb and Ben Sheets out there as well.
Just a quick question: with all the trades and signings the Blue Jays have made, could their general manager have made a fatal blunder in rehiring John Gibbons as manager? Will he be another Bobby Valentine in Toronto? The team imploded when he was the manager previously.
-- Gil, Andover
Not sure how it could implode more than it did last season under John Farrell. They only won 73 games. With the talent they’ve added, Gibbons should handle it fine. I like fiery managers and he doesn’t take any guff from players. I like guys who manage their players with a firm hand which is why I like Valentine. It should work as long as Gibbons has the backing of his GM, which Valentine never had. Alex Anthopoulos had Gibbons before so he knows what he’s getting.
Will the Sox bring back Scott Atchison? He was a reliable arm. I think he is worth a one-year deal just to see what he can do.
-- Mike, Pawtucket, Rhode Island
They'd probably consider it, but if I were Atchison I’d probably want to go elsewhere. One place the Red Sox are deep is the bullpen and he would have to fight his way on again.
Why the Stephen Drew signing? The kid Iglesias will win them three games a year with his glove. Like Dustin Pedroia, the bat will come. Don't get the Mike Napoli thing either. That glove is going to lose three games a year.
-- Ed, Pembroke
They definitely sacrificed some defense at both positions. Drew is OK defensively. He’s not going to kill them. Remains to be seen how Napoli is defensively but they’re going to obtain a first baseman who will probably come in late in the game for defense.
My concern is Jon Lester's propensity to show disgust at every close call that does not go his way. What will it take to have him realize that he is his own worst enemy in this regard and that the more he does this, the more the umpires will make sure that the close calls will never go his way? This approach is not what we need from our presumably number one starter.
-- Ken, Manchester, New Hampshire
John Farrell has already had that conversation with him. We’ll see if it gets through.
Longtime Red Sox fan transplanted to the west coast. Napoli is viewed as a hybrid 1B/C. If I remember right, Jarrod Saltalamacchia used to function the same way when he he hit the big leagues with Texas. Any news about Salty possibly taking over the 1B slot in a platoon basis? The Sox would have three catchers to rotate plus a Salty/Gomez combo at 1B. Salty could become another Carlos Pena.
-- James, Richmond, California
I think it’s tough to platoon two guys who aren’t that great with the glove at one position. I think you need a good defensive first baseman backing up Napoli.
Can you please tell me why the Sox keep trying to make relievers into starters.
-- Tom, Hewitt, New Jersey
I don’t agree with that either. If you’re a good reliever, I think that’s very valuable. There’s a temptation to move Junichi Tazawa back to the rotation, but I think he’s terrific late in the game. Leave him alone.
If the Mike Napoli signing doesn't happen, what about a Andrew Bailey for Justin Morneau trade?
-- Philip, Prospect, Connecticut
I like Morneau as a first base option. I think the Twins like Glen Perkins as their closer, so it would likely have to be for something else.
Why hasn't Boston inked Vicente Padilla, who had 23 holds last season and pitched pretty well?
-- Mario, Miami
Padilla was very effective. He tired toward the end of the season and perhaps they’re afraid of that going forward. They feel they have Padilla’s replacement in Tazawa.
While I am certainly against performance-enhancing drug use in professional sports, I agree with your opinion regarding players linked to PED's and their worthiness for inclusion in the Hall of Fame. One thing that never seems to get mentioned though is how many minor league players who have been caught using have stats that are nothing special. I think this shows that, while PED's may enhance your play, you still need to have great skills to play to the level of a Roger Clemens or a Barry Bonds and that PED's alone don't make you even a good player. Do you think some research into this would help sway some voters?
-- Dave, Danvers
Exactly. And further research would help explain what exactly PED’s do for you. Not sure they’re going to help some utility infielder without the skills of Clemens and Bonds. Plenty of them have taken steroids and never enhanced their performance.
The Sox already did some "background work" on Bobby Abreu, what do you think the chances are of giving Johnny Damon an invite to spring training as a back-up lefthanded 1B/OF? He's the same age as Abreu but at least he already knows the market and might help to restore the clubhouse once again? I know it is more living in the past as opposed to a solid baseball move but what harm could come of it?
-- Nathan, Burlington, Ontario
I would never turn Johnny Damon away. Not sure what he can do at first base, but I’d give him a shot for sure.
Do you think Travis Hafner is an option for a bat off the bench, or is he not versatile enough? Seems like a lot of talk is about a lefthanded/1B bat off the bench and he could be cheap.
-- Jake, Indianapolis
Love the power, but not sure he fits their needs defensively. I think they want someone who can legitimately play first and LF.
Don't know if this point is valid but I'll give it a shot. Everyone always questions whether Jacoby Ellsbury will stay healthy. I've never heard anyone point out that the last two major injuries he had were the result of getting run over by Adrian Beltre in left field, and getting landed on after sliding into second base. It's not like he has broken down and got hurt either time. It seems to be these freak plays. The amount of time he has taken to recover from these injuries is the reason people tag him as an 'injury risk'. Is this not true?
-- Mike, Boston
Yes. He takes a long time to come back. That’s the rap, no question.
What can we expect from the rest of the AL East? The Orioles are bound to falter. When was the last time a bunch of big trades worked (Blue Jays)? The Rays lost short-term with James Shields (but should win long term). The Yankees are old, but always threats. What can we expect?
-- Xander, North Andover
Bunched up again. Jays have the opportunity to break from the pack if everything goes well for them. Things always seem to happen to the Jays, though. The Rays have enough pitching to withstand the loss of Shields and they’ve improved their offense. Wil Myers could eventually be a force. The Orioles haven’t done much, but they have a good team. They need to replace Mark Reynolds and there are enough hitters and deals left out there to make that happen. The Yankees still have a good team and the Red Sox are improved.
What about a Rick Porcello, clearly the odd man out in Detroit, for Andrew Bailey? It solves the Tigers' closer issue without paying for Rafael Soriano, and Porcello adds depth and potential lightning in a bottle since he is only 24.
-- Mark, Pasadena, California
Like it. Don’t know how good Porcello will be as he seems to be declining, but he’s only 24. Bailey seems redundant and I don’t always buy it when teams try to move closers to set-up men.
What's going on with Daniel Bard? Does he fit in their plans?
-- Donald, Spencer, Iowa
Seems to fit. They’ve worked with him this offseason and will continue to do so in spring training. Too good of a talent to give up on.