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

Readers seem intrigued by Nationals first baseman/outfielder Michael Morse as a possible fit for the Red Sox if the Mike Napoli deal can’t be executed.

You’re also weighing in on the job Ben Cherington has done so far, with some saying good, some bad.

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The Red Sox will continue to tweak their team before spring training. If they get Napoli done, they still want a lefthanded hitting first baseman/outfielder, so you’re hearing of interests in Bobby Abreu, Casey Kotchman, Nick Johnson, Lyle Overbay, and possibly Johnny Damon. If they can’t get Napoli done, you’ll likely see a deal for someone like Morse and then the addition of the same lefthanded platoon guy at first and left field.


The Sox will also add another veteran starting pitcher for depth purposes. I would be surprised if they went after a 1-5 starter because they seem to have their five starters in place with Franklin Morales at No. 6 and possibly Alfredo Aceves at No. 7.

I’m curious to see what they do for reserve infield. Obviously Pedro Ciriaco has to be one of them, or their super-utility guy. Then who between Brock Holt and Jose Iglesias? I had one GM tell me that even with Stephen Drew signed, they still think Iglesias will wind up as the starting shortstop for the Red Sox.

Here’s the mailbag:

I would trade Ryan Kalish, Franklin Morales, and two minor leaguers for Michael Morse to play first base. What do you think of the trade proposal?
Art, Huntsville, Ala.
He’s an interesting guy who does indeed fit well. Took him a while to get going in Seattle and then in Washington, where he became a platoon player and then a full time player. A career path similar to David Ortiz. He would be a good fit in Boston, no doubt, but you don’t want to give up the farm to get him. That was the whole point of trying to sign Mike Napoli.


Why haven’t the Sox aggressively pursued Justin Smoak? Seattle has given up on him and traded for Kendrys Morales, and Smoak hasn’t put up enough numbers to justify a high price tag, so he would come cheap.
Dan, Felton, Del.
Lot of “ifs” there with Smoak. If he’s so good, why did Seattle go get Morales? Not saying Smoak won’t turn into something, but the Red Sox need more of a sure thing if they expect to compete with the other four teams in their division, especially at first base where you need production. I’m not against this if they are able to sign Napoli. Then you can ease him in and spot him. But committing to him as your No. 1 first baseman? I’d have problems with that.

Why does Red Sox management have so many issues with signing someone almost every year? It seems to create bad blood and it creates a bad view of the team from an outsider considering to sign. The holdup on the Napoli signing makes us look bad, sometimes you have to take a chance.
Leo, New Port Richey, Fla.
Leo, where there’s $40 million involved I think the team has a right to explore medical concerns and protect themselves against a player who may not be able to perform. I think when Dr. Thomas Gill was the medical director, they did a great job protecting themselves on J.D. Drew and John Lackey with clauses. This is no different with Napoli. You can “take a chance” on a one-year or may be even a two-year deal, but anything beyond that, you’d better protect yourself.


Any thought of offering Troy Glaus an invite to spring training?
John, Peabody, Mass.
Haven’t heard that one.

Click the full entry button for more Q&A

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, he’s in the bullpen. They are going to stretch him out as a starter just in case there’s an injury or John Lackey needs more time. He’s probably good trade bait, but it doesn’t 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 wouldn’t say fine. He was a quasi-prospect who never showed any sustained power. He should have been better than what he was. He’s 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 isn’t a splash to be made in free agency. They could still make one with a trade. I don’t agree with your assessment that a big name free-agent can’t make your team better. My point was they don’t 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 – probably the best 3-4 punch of the era. They’re 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 he’s 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, they’re 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 don’t 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.
It’s not crazy, but I agree with Bobby Valentine that if you have relievers who can do the job don’t mess with them. Now he messed with Franklin Morales and made him a starter because he didn’t 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 you’re 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 I’m trading Salty, I’d probably get prospects for him. Gavin Floyd is OK, but is he better than what they have? I don’t think so. But I’d 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. He’s 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. They’ve 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, that’s 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. That’s why I thought Bobby Valentine should have more than one year with an upgraded roster. He didn’t get that chance. You have made your assessment of Cherington and you’re entitled to your opinion. After they gutted the team with the Dodgers trade, don’t you have to wait and see what the results of that are? What if they make the playoffs this year with the way they’ve restructured their team? I know you can always change your opinion and that’s OK to do. Cherington is probably critical of himself for those moves. How do you know Cherington didn’t uncover the “gems” that you credit Theo with uncovering? How do you know he wasn’t 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. We’re going to judge a GM on just more than a season on the job?

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