Ask Nick: Are Red Sox angling for trades?

FORT MYERS, Fla. – I can’t tell you how many e-mails I get from fans wondering if the Red Sox constructed their team in such a way that they can trade a few players off at the trading deadline and obtain prospects.

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While that could be the byproduct of signing veteran complimentary players, one would hope that the Boston Red Sox, a big market team, would not have that solely in their mind when putting together a team.

Don’t we all want to believe that they constructed a team that can win?

Evidently, there’s not a lot of confidence that this group will.

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Because the Red Sox overpaid on some for these players for shorter commitments, not sure many of them would be able to be moved. Certainly not Shane Victorino, who was given a three-year, $39-million deal. Who knows, you may all be right – maybe this team was put together so it can be sold off at the trading deadline.

Strange and sad, if it’s come to that for the Boston Red Sox.

Here’s the mailbag:

Do you think that the Sox’ strategy in signing the free agents, and trading for Hanrahan, that they signed this offseason was to stockpile talent for the July 31st trade deadline in order to acquire prospects? Sounds like a good plan to me.
George, Andover, Mass.
That could be George, but what a ridiculous strategy for a big market team if that’s the case. You build a team in the offseason so you can trade them? Who would take Victorino’s contract? Napoli could be dealt, I suppose if someone just wants a half-year fix. Gomes has a two-year, $10 million deal. He was overpaid. Hanrahan could be traded. But again, why would you build a team so you can trade them at midseason? I can see a smaller team doing something like for draft picks, but the Boston Red Sox?

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Everything I’m reading about Jackie Bradley, Jr., seems a bit like deja vu all over again. Any of those statements could have been made 60-plus years ago when Willie Mays came up. Can you compare Jackie Bradley to Willie Mays?
Maggie, Burlington, Vt.
Not quite ready to do that Maggie. Bradley has very good skills and like any young player, we’ll see how he adapts to the major leagues at some point. I still believe the Red Sox will send him back to the minors, but at least they’re thinking boldly about keeping him.

As someone who hasn’t followed much of spring training until this year, what are the things to watch out for if I’m trying to get an idea of how specific players are going to do on the season? I know this is a very uncertain science, but I’d be curious to hear what you consider as ‘good signs’ for a batter in spring training.
Alex, Cambridge, Mass.
I’ve been to about 29 of these in my career and I can tell with certainty that there’s no way to measure that. Sometimes pitchers who look like they’re in great shape and throw the ball well have bad years. Guys who are fat and throw poorly have good ones. Honestly, the only thing you watch for is a young player who is making a bid to stick – like a Jackie Bradley – or an older player who looks like he might be at the end of the line.

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How would you feel about Mark Cuban buying the Red Sox?
Eddie, Waterford

I like Mark Cuban. He’d be great. But I have no problem with the current owners. They brought two championships to Boston. They’ve gone through a drought recently, but they’ve committed huge resources to this team. Their baseball operations people just haven’t made the right decisions lately. We’ll see if that begins to change this season.

Click the Full Entry button for more Q&A.


I know that Hanrahan is the closer, but to me the prime candidate would be Tazawa. He has it all: low walk total, rich velocity, durability, and a nice repertoire of pitches. He would be lights out in the 9th.
Ethan, Medford, Mass.
If Hanrahan falters you could see something like that. Don’t forget, also, that Tazawa has options, and if the Red Sox find themselves in a roster pickle at the end of camp, don’t be surprised to see Tazawa start at Triple-A. He had a great second half last season. He’s highly regarded by the Red Sox, but I think they would go to Andrew Bailey first and then Tazawa.
Who has been the biggest surprise of spring training so far? Also, what is the ideal outfield setup with Ellsbury and Bradley Jr., on the same team?
Joe, Syracuse, NY
In that scenario, Bradley moves to a corner. We saw what happened when Ellsbury moved to left a couple of years ago. He’s also the veteran and an excellent center fielder, so he would remain there. My guess is they’d use Bradley mostly in left with Jonny Gomes in a platoon, but they’d get him time in center and right as well.
Pedro Ciriaco can easily fill in at 2d, 3d, SS, and with some more practice, he can play outfield. He has proven that he is a real gamer and things seem to happen when he is in the lineup. Do you think ownership will value him enough to keep him ?
Dana, Los Angeles
I would think so. You’re already hearing John Farrell say they want to get a long look at Brock Holt. While Holt is a better hitter, he doesn’t create the excitement on the bases, nor do I think he plays shortstop as well as Ciriaco. Holt seems to be a second baseman, who can fill in at third and short, but Ciriaco can legitimately play shortstop and did a nice job at third base when Will Middlebrooks was injured. He was also “Bobby V’s guy” so who knows if that becomes a factor in the final decision.
We’ve heard several times that Felix Doubront reported to camp out of shape. For a professional athlete, what exactly is “out of shape”?
Brian, Whately, Mass.
In his case he had a bit of a belly and his arm strength wasn’t where it should have been. I suppose it’s different for everyone. Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey don’t look like they’re in great shape, but they don’t seem to look any diffferent than they normally do.
Haven’t read much of anything about Ryan Dempster this spring. How has he looked and what is your expectation of what he can do for the team this year?
Michael, Salt Lake City
Dempster had a very good debut on Tuesday. He’s a professional pitcher, whose career has been saved with a good split-fingered fastball. Farrell said if he can get north of 180 innings out of him, he feels he’ll be effective.
An unorthodox proposal: Have pitchers during the season follow the routine being used now at the beginning of spring training. Have multiple pitchers pitch just one or two innings. Any one pitcher would probably pitch every other day.
George, Boston
Unorthodox it is. Wouldn’t be shocked if it came to this, but it won’t because salaries would have to be reduced and the Players Association would cry bloody murder. Starting pitchers determine the pay scale. Colorado has started the 75-pitch limit for starters and it was fairly effective last season.
Curious as to what the Sox think of Jeremy Hazelbaker? Do they view him as a legit option as a RF or LF in a year or two? His minor league stats compare favorably with Ryan Kalish, but I just don’t here a lot of buzz on him.
Andy, Summerville, SC
You’re right, not a lot of buzz, but he sneaks up on you. He might be a guy who emerges. There’s no hype on him at all, which can be a good thing. From what the organizational folks tell me, he’s a solid player, but he would have to start doing “special” type things on the field – mostly offensively – to crack what they perceive as their top echelon outfielders.
I keep hearing that there is no protection for Ortiz in the Sox lineup. I don’t know where that is coming from because I think that Napoli provides great protection for Ortiz.
John, Lexington, Mass.
Napoli is not a cleanup hitter. He can be pitched to. He has holes. So if he’s hitting behind Ortiz, any pitcher would rather take their chances with Napoli than pitch to Ortiz. Napoli will hit some home runs. No, I’m in the camp that this lineup has very little protection for Ortiz unless Middlebrooks emerges as a major offensive force.
Am I alone thinking the Red Sox would like to move Stephen Drew at the trade deadline? The best case is that Iglesias does show enough bat that he is a multiyear solution, and they can flip Drew for a B prospect.
Paul, Chatham, NJ
Drew is cheap insurance. They can flip him if Iggy shows the bat, or keep him if Iggy has none. I suppose so. Again, I can’t believe they would build their team hoping they can flip guys at midseason. Holy crow.

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