Ask Nick: Why not more blame on ownership and management?

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Writing this after a rare win. Haven’t written too many upbeat, positive stories lately, but judging by some of your questions this week, you’re not too warm and fuzzy about anyone or anything right now.

Here are a few thoughts:

  • I think I’m right about Daniel Bard returning to the bullpen. I know he’s going to be an excellent starter. I think he’s going to be a top three guy in your rotation. Just don’t think the time is now.
  • I’ve talked to enough scouts to know this: Alfredo Aceves is seriously overthrowing. It’s great he can throw it 95-96, but he doesn’t have nearly the movement as when he’s throwing 92-93. Major League hitters can hit 96 if it’s straight.
  • Manager Bobby Valentine wants to make Franklin Morales an all-purpose set-up guy. I understand why. He throws 96, has a good changeup and filthy stuff. One problem: his command comes and goes. He’ll break your heart, Bobby.
  • Jon Lester is throwing way too many cutters, according to the baseball people who watched him last night. He got completely out of his release point in the fourth inning.
  • I like Marlon Byrd’s energy for a guy who’s been in the league that long.
  • I hear teams are starting to rethink the shift on David Ortiz because he’s beating it.
  • Jarrod Saltalamacchia should just swing for the fences every time up. Forget the on-base stuff. That’s not who he is. He should continue to stay aggressive and swing hard because he’s a very strong guy.
  • Jose Iglesias’s batting average is up to .233 after a 1-for-10 start.
  • The Red Sox have such poor outfield arms.
  • Will Middlebrooks is pushing the envelope at Pawtucket to be a major leaguer – eight homers and a batting average approaching .400.
  • This bullpen will look a lot better when Rich Hill returns.
  • Interesting to see whether the Red Sox get involved with free-agent lefty reliever Mike Gonzalez, though Gonzalez has always been up and down.
  • The Red Sox haven’t given up the ship on Roy Oswalt.
  • OK, I’m really surprised about Ryan Sweeney’s strong start, but for the doctor from Columbia who keeps writing here comparing him to Fred Lynn, the answer is, I know Fred Lynn, and Ryan Sweeney is no Fred Lynn.

Ok, here’s the mailbag:

Why is hardly any blame for the team’s poor start is being directed toward the upper management and ownership? Ownership and upper management do the hiring, firing and most importantly, the signing of players and hiring staff members. So I don’t want to hear that it’s all Bobby Valentine’s fault or just the player’s fault. Thoughts?
Reed, Chico,Calif.
Entitled to your opinion and yes, they control the purse strings. I’m sure they wish they had a better roster and I’m sure they wish that $67 million of it wasn’t on the disabled list. Bobby Valentine was the right hire. This is his 16th season as a manager in the major leagues. You don’t last that long being a bad manager. It’s incredible to me how unfair people like yourself are toward him. It’s 15 games in and you’ve made up your mind. Amazing.

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Why platoon guys if they start hitting well?
Mike, Eastport, Maine
It’s trial and error at this point. I think Valentine feels the same way. Whoever steps up will get the playing time and his confidence.

Do you know of any local businessman/group who might have an interest in buying John Henry’s share of the Red Sox? Jonathan Kraft comes to mind. I just think that Henry is too involved with his many outside interests and his first priority is no longer the Red Sox. If Jonathan Kraft is half the owner his dad is, I think that would great for this team. Your thoughts?
Mark, Lynn
I think there are plenty and I’m sure they get offers to sell all the time. Why would they? It’s a very profitable business and they pour a lot of money into the product. Their payroll is usually top three. Not sure you can argue with that. Fenway has been redone. Not much downside, other than the fact they’ve done two-plus tough years. And I don’t buy the fact that Henry’s first priority isn’t the Red Sox. Rather, I think it is. He does have a huge sports team in Liverpool, but seriously, he’s a baseball fan first.

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Click the Full Entry button for more Q&A

If Ben Cherington can solidify the bullpen, the season may not be lost, right?
Ethan, Westport, Conn.
Agreed. It’s far from over. It’s really all about what they do from here. Valentine said, “We’ve hit rock bottom.” Yup. That’s right. As the manager, it’s up to him to put people in better places. We all know Bard would be a solution they should try as the closer. That one’s a no-brainer. The front office just doesn’t seem to be on board with that.

Is Marlon Byrd going to be the answer to the Red Sox’ problems?
Allen, Venice, Fla.
Lot of things not quite right at the moment. It’s awfully tough to make meaningful evaluations in April. I think people always fall into that trap. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try different things and I think they’re making that attempt. Teams just don’t make big trades at this time of the year, so they’re not going to be able to dramatically change things right away.

What is up with John Maine? I read the Sox signed him to a minor league deal, but I have not heard anything since. There was mention of using him in the bullpen.
Russ, Merrimack, NH
Slow starting out of the gate. Still in extended spring training trying to work his way to Pawtucket.

We have noticed on the Sox broadcasts a guy always sitting behind home plate with a set of yellow headphones on. Our assumption is that he works for the team (he usually is in a shirt and tie), maybe serving as a broadcast coordinator with the umps? Can you shed any light on this mystery?
Jimbo, Vienna, Va.
No mystery. It’s Jeremy Kapstein, pioneer baseball agent, former CEO of the Padres and long-time advisor to Larry Lucchino.

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I was wondering why the Redsox are waiting to bring up Aaron Cook from Pawtucket? Also, if this occurs, do you think Daniel Bard will be asked to close out games?
Art, Waltham
I believe Cook should have started with the team. They’ve wasted three every good starts at Triple-A (2-0, 1.35 ERA). Sure Bard would move to bullpen if that happened.

Five home runs off Beckett, five home runs off Buchholz, and the common denominator was Jarrod Saltalamacchia was the catcher. He sets up his target poorly. He is way past the time he should go to the Mariners or Royals or down to the farm. What do you think time for a change at catcher?
Bob, Fairbanks, Alaska
I always blame the guy who throws the baseball. You may be right about Salty’s defensive ability, but two veteran major league pitchers have to know where to throw it.