Expectations arenít high, which sometimes is a good thing.
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Pete Abraham and I are heading to spring training on Monday. Can't beat WBZís Jon Miller, who is already there.
Hereís the mailbag:
In retrospect, was it wise for the Sox to trade Adrian Gonzalez?
Dan, El Cajon, Calif.
I think that was a good move and thatís coming from someone who led the charge for many years to trade for him. I think being able to get rid of those big contracts, especially non-performers like Crawford and Beckett Ė made it worth it. Itís hard to replace A-Gonís bat, but if you believe he wasnít what you expected him to be in the clubhouse (with all the backdoor stuff to management), then cutting ties was the best thing.
Is Ryan Westmoreland still playing in the minor leagues or is he done with baseball?
Al, Pensacola, Fla.
Iím told he is coming to spring training with the intention to play. I think itís going to be a wait and see type situation.
Do you think there has been any serious consideration to signing Carlos Zambrano, or is the chemistry on this year's team a bit too delicate to risk on a personality such as his?
Russ, Gulf Shores, Ala.
I havenít heard his name linked with the Red Sox. I think they feel theyíre OK depth-wise with pitching, with some options in Morales and probably Aceves. Both Morales and Aceves will likely be stretched out as starters in spring training.
Is it possible that last year's disastrous season is keeping team leaders like David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia out of the World Baseball Classic?
No, I think itís because both players are coming off injuries and they are the main core of Bostonís offense.
With Ryan Kalish not starting the season because of surgery, do you think the Sox would try to get Brandon Moss from Oakland? He would be a good fit, plays first and the outfield, and is a lefthanded hitter.
Ralph, Wallingford, Conn.
He would be the ideal guy. Oakland GM Billy Beane tells me heís not interested in trading him. Of course, if the price is right Ö
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Would a Salty for Justin Smoak trade make any sense for both of them, or will Salty play some first to get Lavarnway some games?
Zeke, East Longmeadow, Mass.
Iíve answered this question a lot. It does make sense, but the Red Sox need a really good defensive first baseman to back up Napoli.
The more I think of it, the better I like the idea of training Xander Bogaerts for third base to allow moving Middlebrooks to first later in the year or next year. Do you know if the Sox braintrust is considering it?
George, Lakewood Ranch, Fla.
Iím sure theyíve thought about it and it has to be an option a couple of years down the road. Iíve asked about Middlebrooks moving across the diamond and the answer I get is they think Middlebrooks is going to be a really good third baseman.
Beyond 2013, the Sox will be loaded with righthanded hitters and there are not many lefthanded hitters with power on the horizon down on the farm. Developing Ryan Kalish as a viable first baseman makes a lot of sense, whether he's merely a fill-in there or if he eventually becomes the regular. In the event something happens to Mike Napoli or Big Papi as the season goes on, a trade for the Twins Justin Morneau, who's in his "walk" year, might be the remedy. What do you think it would take to get him in a trade?
Peter, South Hamilton, Mass.
As you know now, Kalish is likely out for most of this season after shoulder surgery. I like the Morneau idea. Obviously you have to see where you are in the standings whenever an injury would occur. But if theyíre in the hunt, a deal for Morneau would be great.
The Red Sox ran out and signed all these guys for top dollar early in free agency and now it seem like there are some good deals being made on some good potential guys and the Red Sox are nowhere to be found. What's the deal?
Bill, Watertown, Mass.
Not sure whom youíre referring to. They seem to have their team set the way they wanted it. They went after the players they earmarked for those positions Ė Gomes, Victorino, Napoli, Dempster. Those are the guys they wanted and they were willing to pay them.
I saw that Ryan Lavarnway has been sent early to Florida to work with Gary Tuck. I find this very interesting considering it's widely believed Lavarnway will start the season in Pawtucket. With this knowledge, do you believe the handwriting is on the "Green Walls" that Salty will be dealt to fill some of the current team needs?
Wendy, Derry, NH
I know that Tuck really likes Lavarnwayís intelligence and upside as a catcher, so they will go all out with him. Iím sure theyíre still entertaining deals for Salty. I just say be careful with that. Catchers who hit 25 homers are hard to find.
Why has Scott Posednik not been seen as an option for the outfield? Wouldn't he have been a stronger choice than Gomes in left field?
Jason, Los Angeles
Gomes has Fenway power. Heíll be much more productive than Podsednik, who wouldnít be a bad extra guy.
Is it safe to say that Ben Cherington's tenure has been a complete disaster? Every time I looked at TV last year I was witness to a former Sox player blowing up and absolutely killing it with another team, like Josh Reddick.
Shane, New Orleans
Canít be worse than last year, can it? I think theyíll be a middle of the pack team and they might surprise if everything goes right. If you believe in karma, they are due. As for Reddick, go back to when the trade was made. Anybody really getting upset they traded Reddick for a closer with two All-Star seasons? Donít remember the outrage then. Just know the outrage occurred after Reddick took off and Bailey got hurt. Trades tend to take a while to fully evaluate. Lets watch Reddick this year and see how Bailey pitches.
Why didn't the Sox try to get Youkilis back to play first instead of Napoli, especially with the hip issue for Napoli. He may have wanted to come back to Boston instead of NY. Also, do you think there will be another trade for a 1B/OF type?
They had moved on from Youkilis and Youkilis had moved on from them. Obviously the Red Sox felt Napoli was perfectly suited for Fenway with his bat. At the time Youkkilis was traded, Adrian Gonzalez was the first baseman and Will Middlebrooks came on like gangbusters, and Bobby Valentine really felt he was going to be a special player. So they gave the job to Middlebrooks. They were more and more concerned that Youkilis was starting to break down and his numbers had declined for three seasons. He seems like a nice fit for the Yankees, who need his plate discipline to replace Nick Swisherís ability to see a lot of pitches. And obviously he replaced A-Rod.
I think Ryan Sweeney is an improvement over Kalish. Your opinion? And, I doubt Jose Iglesias will hit sufficiently. Why do they not trade him? Is it difficult to unload him?
Vicente, Jamundi, Colombia
Sweeney is a good defender and a singles hitter. Heís frustrating in that heís a big guy with no power, but not a bad player and one who could be and should be a fourth or fifth outfielder. Better than Kalish? I guess we wonít know. You have to feel bad for Kalish, who will now miss almost two years of his career with injuries, so we still have no idea how good he is or could be. As for Iglesias, heís not hard to trade but the Red Sox have invested almost $8 million in him, so theyíre hesitant to deal him away when he starts to get good. His bat is improving. It may never be average, but his glove is tremendous and thatís what I love to watch.
I look at the off-season moves of the Jays and Mariners and wonder whether Ben Cherington could have made a comparable offer to the Marlins of prospects for Johnson, Buerhle, and Reyes (as well as signing Melky Cabrera as a free agent)? Would this have cost the Sox any more than they spent on Gomes, Drew, and Victorino? I also look at Seattle's role in the Morse trade which consisted of sending a catcher to Oakland for Alex Coles and wonder why Cherington could not have engineered a comparable deal directly with Oakland? What does he intend to do with three catchers?
Jim, New York
Cherington is merely trying to put the best people around him. Thatís the key to any GMís success. San Francisco is the best example. A bunch of old school baseball guys surrounding Brian Sabean who really know the game and trust each other. Thatís what you need. Cherington did make a bid for Reyes and Johnson, but wasnít willing to give up the top tier prospects like Bradley and Bogaerts to make it happen. As for Morse, once they knew they were going to sign Napoli, Morse didnít make sense anymore because he bats righthanded. They did explore it while they were trying to work out the Napoli situation. At the end of the day, Napoli is the guy they wanted in that role, nobody else.