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Ask Nick: What will happen at first base?

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff  August 20, 2013 01:00 PM

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As it stands now, this team is going nowhere. Half a lineup just won't cut it facing top pitching in the playoffs. Imagine Napoli, Middlebrooks (unreliable fielding and throwing), Gomes, Saltalamacchia, and Drew actually having to move runners along, get big hits, sac flies when the chips are down against good pitching. They can all run into a ball and send it out on rare occasions, but these guys are all very mediocre players (to be kind). We need to stop the wishful thinking based on the glories of yesteryear. Your thoughts?
Dana, Los Angeles
Well, I think Bill Parcells was right: You are what your record says you are. The Red Sox have had the best record in baseball quite a bit of the season. So I think they’re doing a lot right and the players are performing. I think elite pitching can beat any lineup. For most of the season, this lineup has led the majors in scoring, so while you seem frustrated, not so sure you should be. They have struggled against most lefty starters, so that could be an issue against David Price or Matt Moore or Derek Holland in the playoffs.

After some of our recent losses, I was wondering, if the Sox make it to the postseason, do we have a bullpen that can compete with other contenders?
Rob, Ridgeway, Mo.
I always wonder about having younger relievers in spots down the stretch. As far as the Breslow/Tazawa/Uehara combo at the end, I think that’s as solid as anyone. Workman has looked good. Drake Britton had been excellent until recently. I believe they should have obtained another veteran reliever, but they can avoid this by the starters going at least seven innings.

I was not on board with the Iglesias trade and I'm not convinced about Peavy yet. I understand there was a logjam of prospects at short, but after seeing some of the defensive plays he's been pulling off for Detroit, I can't help but feel it was a big mistake trading him, and I think it will definitely come back to haunt us if we have to face Detroit in the playoffs. Do you still feel it was a good idea trading him for Peavy?
Rick, Rochester, N.Y.
You make a great point, Rick. I never criticize a team for “going for it” and giving up what they have to in order to fill a need that could win it all for them. In the long run, it probably won’t be a good move, but if it turns out like Lowell/Beckett for Hanley Ramirez/Anibal Sanchez and it wins them a championship, you would do it, wouldn’t you?

I hear a lot about trading for power hitting and bullpen support, and I've got mixed feelings about it. Would I love to see Gomes wrestle a Duck Boat after winning the World Series? Absolutely. But I'm not too sure about trading away bright futures (and possibly more rings) for it. This is a "rebuilding" year and I wonder if we can't keep utilizing our farm to prop the team up?
Brandon, Dallas
They’ve done a good job winning and not giving up the future – with the exception of Jose Iglesias – so they’re ahead of the game. As I said in a previous post, win when you have a chance to win. They can win now. You don’t forfeit the chance to win because you want to hold on to a prospect for five years from now. Washington made that terrible decision not to pitch Strasburg in last year’s playoffs in a year when they had a chance to win it all, feeling they have enough talent to get back into the position. They have had a bad season, and you just never know what can happen. Sometimes you never make it back. Sometimes those terrific prospects fizzle.

Why hasn't MLB (or maybe an MLB team) hired Jose Canseco as a consultant with this whole Biogenesis scandal coming out? This is a guy who's done it, would know the telltale signs, could speak on it, etc. Seems to me like a no-brainer.
Mike, Austin, Texas
Interesting take. You’re right, Jose is the Godfather of steroids. He’s brought all of this out to light. I’m sure he knows a lot about it, but his name seems like poison to MLB, so I doubt there would be any consultations.

I know there is a reluctance to criticize John Farrell when it come to handling pitchers, but recently Peavy struggled all night, was being hit hard, and except for a double play initiated by Napoli in the fifth inning, he probably was on his way out. Then Farrell brought him out for the sixth and he gives up three hits and a run. Why in the world did Farrell wait so long?
Paul, Waterford, Conn.
No, we can disagree with Farrell on pitching moves. It’s just that he usually has a really good reason for taking a pitcher out too soon or too late. He explains his decisions very well. He also knows, better than me, what he has available in the bullpen and what he can expect from those guys. The one thing none of us know – even those of us who are around the team all the time – is if some guy is sick that day, or is fatigued, or isn’t available, or if he didn’t warm up well. They base a lot of that on that information. So I’m always hesitant to make a blanket statement on a pitching move unless I know all of the circumstances.

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