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Ask Nick: Are Red Sox built to succeed in playoffs?

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff  June 13, 2013 12:00 PM

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What do you think are the chances Clay Buchholz starts the All-Star game?
Jerry, Summit, NJ
Unless injuries prevent it, Id say he should start the All-Star game.

What position players on the current Red Sox roster could pitch in a pinch?
Rick, Eagan, Minn.
My candidates would be David Ross, Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks. Im guessing Ross would be the first choice.

If the Phillies make Jonathan Papelbon available, can you see the Red Sox make an aggressive bid for him and what players could the Sox move for Papelbon?
Kyle, Peabody
Not sure if the Red Sox would go after him. They want to monitor Andrew Bailey over the next month to see if he can truly handle the closer role and if he can remain healthy. The Phillies need to get at least one top positional/pitching prospect. He wont come cheaply. Probably a three-player package with one top prospect and two pretty good ones, or a current, established player. Im sure theyd come after Allen Webster, someone who is not far from the big leagues.

With the Sox looking for relievers, one who seems to be having a good year in Pawtucket is Ryan Rowland-Smith. He is 3-0 with an ERA of.76 and a 29/9 SO to BB ratio. He is not on the 40-man roster, so what's the scoop?
Ken, North Kingstown, RI
I know Gary DiSarcina, the Pawtucket manager, is very high on him. One of the biggest issues here is the 40-man roster and Rowland-Smith isnt on it, so youd have to designate someone for assignment in order to create a spot. Thats why youre seeing only 40-man guys getting recalled.

Why is it that catchers, who see thousands of pitches and motions, are not better hitters?
Dick, Melrose
They take a beating behind the plate. It wears them down. Catchers need to spend so much time on their catching skills, that hitting becomes secondary.

Would the Red Sox ever bring up Juan Carlos Linares to the major leagues? What are his stats?
Bob, Jacksonville, Fla.
Hes in Double-A Portland, hitting about .240. Never really got the chance to show what he can do. Seems to have good outfield skills and is a decent righthanded hitter, but one of those guys who has slipped through the cracks.

What is your assessment of Mike Napoli so far and is there any help at first base down on the farm?
Dave, Running Springs, Calif.
Hes played the position much better than I thought he would, but hes certainly not Adrian Gonzalez or Kevin Youkilis. Hes obviously a power threat and a dangerous hitter. He does strike out a lot, but hes not someone you want to mess with if youre an opposing pitcher.

In a recent article, you said the Sox pitching coach keeps the bullpen ready to go at all times. What does this mean? How does he do this?
Robert, Swanson
Hopefully, the story said the bullpen coach keeps the relievers ready to go. Yes. Dana LeVangie does a nice job. He gets them ready physically by putting together a warmup program of how many fastballs and off-speed pitches the reliever throws before coming in and also goes over the hitters hes going to face and prepares the reliever. Its nothing out of the ordinary, except for the fact that relievers respond to him well and value his advice.

Jon Lester doesn't seem prone to awkward and bizarre injuries like Clay Buchholz. Do you think weight training to build Buchholz up might eliminate these nagging problems without altering his effectiveness?
David, Aurora, Ohio
I know hes had some injuries and Lester hasnt, but I wouldnt touch a thing with Buchholz. Hes a tall, lean guy. Thats what he is. I think youd really be messing with success by altering his body shape. Hes not a power pitcher even though he throws 94. Hes a finesse pitcher who relies on the command of five pitches to baffle the hitter. Hes 9-0, the best pitcher in baseball. I hope the conditioning people stay away from him.

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