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Ask Nick: Is Michael Morse a viable alternative for Red Sox?

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff  January 14, 2013 05:29 PM

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I like most of the moves that Ben Cherington has done this season. I believe that if most of the guys play to their capabilities, they will be playing meaningful baseball in September. They obviously still need another starter and I thought that Franklin Morales was really good last year in that role. Are they going to give him a chance as a starter or do they see him more as a reliever?
Nick, Wallingford, Conn.

Obviously, right now, heís in the bullpen. They are going to stretch him out as a starter just in case thereís an injury or John Lackey needs more time. Heís probably good trade bait, but it doesnít sound like Boston is anxious to move him.

Didn't the Red Sox have a fine young prospect named Lars Anderson who was ready to play first base? Were they too hasty to offload him?
Don, Williamsburg, Va.
I wouldnít say fine. He was a quasi-prospect who never showed any sustained power. He should have been better than what he was. Heís still young enough that he could show some promise with the Diamondbacks.

Why aren't the Red Sox going after Kyle Lohse? He had an ERA under three, and I think he fit really nicely in the rotation.
Gianna, Boston
I like Lohse, but right now they seem to have their five starters. If they add anything, it would be for depth. Someone like Javier Vazquez and assorted others are out there looking for a one-year deal.

Can we please squash once and for all the "they didn't do any big moves so all is lost in 2013" stuff? The Big Splash idea is a marketing thing as much as an on the field thing. I like the team of grinders and adding energy and low salaries as the kids develop.
Andy, Summerville, SC
We can stop harping on it now that there isnít a splash to be made in free agency. They could still make one with a trade. I donít agree with your assessment that a big name free-agent canít make your team better. My point was they donít have enough big-time core players. The good Sox teams had the Bill Muellers, Todd Walkers, Johnny Damons, Kevin Millars, etc. But they also had Ortiz and Manny Ramirez in the middle of the lineup Ė probably the best 3-4 punch of the era. Theyíre building the team around a fiery, all-out hustle second baseman (Dustin Pedroia) and a 37-year-old DH (David Ortiz). Jacoby Ellsbury may be leaving after this season. Will Middlebrooks may indeed be a guy you build around, but he has to prove himself in his first full season where hopefully heís void of injury.

Do you think the Red Sox will avoid last place this year with the pitching staff they will use to start the season? I think they need at least two starting pitchers.
Fernando, Maracaibo, Venezuela
I think heading into the season, theyíre one team in a bunched-up division. The Jays have a chance to create distance if they live up to billing. The Sox have depth in their pitching staff and what looks to be a very good bullpen. Just donít know whether they have any superstars at the head of the rotation that will perform like No. 1 pitchers. If they do, they could be very good.

1. Is it crazy for me to wonder why Clayton Mortensen and Junichi Tazawa don't get a chance to start? Last year, they were two very bright spots who pitched multiple scoreless innings on several occasions.
2. I was trying to remember why the Red Sox shipped out Adam LaRoche so quickly when they had him last. We got him (not sure why) and he was shipped out within days for Casey Kotchman. Why?
Steve, Leominster, Mass.
Itís not crazy, but I agree with Bobby Valentine that if you have relievers who can do the job donít mess with them. Now he messed with Franklin Morales and made him a starter because he didnít think Morales was a great reliever and thought he had the arm to be a very good starter. For me, Tazawa is pretty tough in the late inning role and Mortensen is a terrific innings-eater and a guy who can be terrific when youíre behind in the game and need someone to stop the bleeding. The Sox traded LaRoche because they felt Kotchman was a better first baseman and they needed defense at first. Turns out, Laroche won the Gold Glove last season.

In my opinion, the Red Sox offense doesn't need any more help, the starting rotation is the priority. Do you think a trade involving Jarrod Saltalamacchia and a low prospect to the White Sox for SP Gavin Floyd would make sense?
Ryan, Sharon, Mass.
If Iím trading Salty, Iíd probably get prospects for him. Gavin Floyd is OK, but is he better than what they have? I donít think so. But Iíd be careful about trading away a 25-homer guy.

While the Sox maintain they're all-in on Mike Napoli, why not teach Ryan Lavarnway to play first base and bring in Casey Kotchman to be his mentor? We know they're looking for a right hand bat for the line-up. Also, what do you see them doing to round out the starting rotation?
Maury, San Antonio, Texas
I think they believe Lavarnway will catch and catch well as he gets older. Heís a very smart guy who should take instruction well. The biggest concern when the season ended is where did his bat go? You have to have some sort of defense for your first baseman. As for the rotation, they may pick up one more guy. Theyíve scouted Vazquez. There are veteran guys out there like Freddy Garcia, Derek Lowe, Carl Pavano, Joe Saunders, Chien Ming Wang, Chris Young, Aaron Cook. There are rehab guys like Dallas Braden, Jair Jurrgens, Ben Sheets, Brandon Webb. Plenty of depth guys to be had.

One guy that no one is talking about is Matt Garza. Would seem to be a good fit for Boston (free agent year, AL East tested, draft pick if he signs elsewhere). Not sure Chicago's strategy or if they would even want to move Garza, but seems like a Saltamacchia, Bailey, prospect trade would make sense for both teams.
Andy, Reston, Va.
Oh yes, thatís always been on the back burner. Garza needs to show his elbow is OK. The Sox and Cubs could definitely be a good fit, but he fits with a lot of teams, so I think the Cubs will have a nice deal for him somewhere.

You have stated it was premature to pass judgment on Cherington. The dilemma is that when the time for judgment arrives, it is inevitably too late to address problems. I think he is unduly cautious, and unlike former GM Theo Epstein, Cherington is a very poor judge of talent. Not one of his trades has netted the Sox a cearly superior player than the one who was traded, and virtually all have had the opposite result.
Jim, New York
I have nothing to hide in my opinion of Ben Cherington. I give people a chance to do their jobs before I pounce on them. Thatís why I thought Bobby Valentine should have more than one year with an upgraded roster. He didnít get that chance. You have made your assessment of Cherington and youíre entitled to your opinion. After they gutted the team with the Dodgers trade, donít you have to wait and see what the results of that are? What if they make the playoffs this year with the way theyíve restructured their team? I know you can always change your opinion and thatís OK to do. Cherington is probably critical of himself for those moves. How do you know Cherington didnít uncover the ďgemsĒ that you credit Theo with uncovering? How do you know he wasnít behind Franklin Morales? Cherington was a huge advocate for Andrew Miller. He signed Cody Ross. He put his faith in Felix Doubront when a lot of people had given up on him. Weíre going to judge a GM on just more than a season on the job?

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