A topic in your previous mailbag made me wonder what is truly the most efficient way to develop a pitching staff. Do you believe it is better to prepare arms by allowing prospects to pitch unlimited innings? Or do you feel that prospects should be limited to protect their arms?
Stephen, Niceville, Fla.
Iím old school. Pitching a lot improves arm strength. A lot of Japanese pitchers throw all day and avoid arm injuries. Dice-K is a good example. He gets to the US and he gets Tommy John surgery because his routine changed so dramatically to adapt to the way American pitchers are taught and trained.
Two questions, both focusing on power: 1.) Can't a good case be made that home runs are really not a great judge of effective production? After all, many players feast on mediocre pitching, but when a clutch home run, or any hit, is necessary late in the game, those same players, with big HR numbers fail to come through? They'll be known as 25-30 HR hitters, but the value of those home runs is tarnished. 2.) I understand Fenway's dimensions are enticing, but why can't the Red Sox aim to have 2-3 players who can steal, bunt, run, like Pedro Ciriaco?
Roy, Cape Elizabeth, Maine
I think everybody likes home runs. They can win games. I see what youíre saying if the home runs are hit for padding stats in meaningless situations. I think that will always happen, but if youíre hitting 40, some of those have to be meaningful. Thatís why I wanted Josh Hamilton here. There are few game-changers in baseball. Heís one of them. As for Ciriaco, I agree. Heís very exciting coming off the bench. He brings energy. Theyíre trying to give Brock Holt a good look, but heís a second baseman who can hit. Ciriaco does so much for you.
Andrew Miller has looked dominant at times so far in Florida. He's still on the younger side, and in my opinion has matured a lot since becoming a reliever. I think the Sox should stretch him out. A tall, 3/4 arm slot lefty, 95 mph fastball, knee-buckling curveball. Not to mention his hair and beard. What do you think?
Tony, Gray, Maine
Thereís always the temptation to move him to the rotation, but I think the Sox brass finally realizes not to mess with success. Heís a very good reliever and his future here is in that role.
What do you think of the concept of having Victorino lead off and sliding Ellsbury down to the 3-hole? Yes the running game would be weakened, but if Victorino can play to the back of his card, sliding Ellsbury down could increase his chances to stay healthy and increase his power numbers.
Adam, Shelton, Conn.
Very low OBP numbers for Victorino last two years. I would think something would have to go wrong with Ellsbury for that to happen.
Why didn't the Red Sox look into signing Nate Schierholtz?
Xander, North Andover, Mass.
Didnít hear that name at all.
What are the chances that Mark Hamilton will make the Red Sox team?
Rick, Sherborn, Mass.
Not very good. Heís a good hitter, but I think the competition for that first base/left field spot is Nava, Carp and Overbay.
Since Daniel Bard finished 2012 in Triple-A, will starting this season in Pawtucket use up another one of his options?
Dan, North Port, Fla.
Sure. Unless he continues to be erratic, I donít think that will happen.
We wrap up with a grand slam of questions from Dr. Vicente of Jamundi, Colombia:
Are there rules about how a player presents himself in spring training camp? Ortiz looks heavy again. Dubront supposedly came out of shape. Why are they allowed in camp?
Doctor, the team can certainly be upset about players coming to camp out of shape, but technically thatís what spring training is for. If theyíre out of shape once the bell rings, thatís another story. Ortiz told me heís 260 pounds, same as he was at the end of last season. He does have an excuse with his injury.
Would you trade immediately Ortiz, Lester, and Dubront?
Ortiz wonít be traded. Heís the best DH in baseball and still the main cog in their lineup. You could make a case for Lester if you got a huge return. I would stay with Doubront, who can be very good.
I remember when the Sox brought up talent from the farm much earlier. At least two of the pitchers seem ready but will have to wait. I would trade and bring up the talent. Your opinion?
I donít believe thereís a pitcher who is ready at this point. You could make cases for Jose Iglesias and Jackie Bradley Jr.
Are the Sox looking for a DH to replace Ortiz? From a medical position, I will be stunned if he plays much any longer. It is too bad. He also took, I think, the wrong therapy (lack of hyperbaric medicine).
I doubt it. Heís trying to be ready for Opening Day and my guess is he will. Have no idea about hyperbaric stuff. Iíll ask, but I havenít heard that.