Ask Nick: Too early to talk trade possibilities?

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There’s been an uptick in the Red Sox’ play of late, as they won five straight before losing to the White Sox, 6-4, Monday night at US Cellular Field. Still, many of you have concerns.

One fellow believes I spend way too much time “shouting from the rooftop” about my undying and unwavering loyalty to Jose Iglesias now that Stephen Drew has performed so well offensively. (Notice I didn’t hear from this fellow until Drew emerged from his April slump.)

Then we have Randy in Albuquerque calling Fenway a “touristy sports bar” and saying he did not enjoy his Fenway experience. I must say, I don’t understand why fans do the wave when the home team is up. You’re supposed to distract the OTHER team.

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Within Randy’s question, he mentioned “Sweet Caroline” in a negative way. I think “Sweet Caroline” lives forever now because of the Boston Marathon bombings and the fact that the song became a symbol of Boston. For a while earlier this year, I thought the song might go the way of the team’s 10-year sellout streak. But it’s on solid footing again.

Yes, I think John Farrell has done an excellent job preparing the team to play its best every day.

And so, here’s this week’s mailbag:

The season is one-fourth over, and the Red Sox are on the cusp of playoff contention. I see us as buyers vs. sellers. Two things we need: nail down a closer and another good bat. The kneejerk answer at closer is Papelbon with the Phils still down; he is reliable health-wise and lights out so far this year. Would he be willing to come back? As for big bat, Giancarlo Stanton now a question mark with hamstring. How about LF Alex Gordon at K.C. or RF Alex Rios with White Sox; the latter would mean moving a couple of folks around. What say you?
Mike, Hendersonville, Tenn.
All terrific choices. I think the Royals think they’re going to contend so I’d rule out Gordon. Rios is the most realistic, especially if the White Sox are selling off by the deadline. Rios played for Brian Butterfield in Toronto and he might get a recommendation there. I’ve had people in baseball suggest the team could be interested in reacquiring Papelbon, but the Red Sox will test Andrew Bailey and see if he can handle it before they do anything drastic.

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When Franklin Morales is ready to return, I think it should be to the rotation. I thought he was great in that spot last year. When/if that happens, I don’t see Felix being good out of the pen, as he throws a lot of pitches and has trouble with his control. Thoughts?
Marc, Bristol, Conn.
I think Franklin Morales will be motivation for Felix Doubront to get his act together. They don’t want to give up on Doubront. They think he’s too talented to keep messing with, so my best guess is that Morales stays a reliever for the time being.

Got to attend my first game in 10 years last week (I was a regular in the ’70s and ’80s) and was astounded that most of the crowd showed up in the third inning and left in the seventh. What is this, San Diego? They started the wave during critical parts of the game and in general paid little attention to the game at all. They were standing up to be photographed with the field in the background. Basically treating Fenway like the touristy sports bar it has become. And this was in the bleachers, where the real fans used to congregate. Don’t even get me started on “Sweet Caroline.” Is there a solution, or should I just stay home? I didn’t enjoy the experience. I thought I was going to watch a baseball game!
Randy, Albuquerque

The late arrivals and early departures are partly due to the enhanced drinking establishments in the area. The area has really added some interesting watering holes and eateries. Until the Red Sox prove they’re completely back from the downturn of the last two seasons, that’s the way it’s going to be. It’s that way at Wrigley now as well.

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Click the Full Entry button for more Q&A.


With Joel Hanrahan on the DL for the remainder of his Red Sox contract, is there anything preventing the Sox from releasing him? Granted the Sox would still have to pay him but would that at least allow the Sox to remove his salary from the luxury tax figures, giving them more flexibility? Do they gain any draft picks by keeping him on until the end of the year?
Tony, Warwick, R.I.
No benefit to releasing him.
I understand the logic of separating Lester and Buchholz in the rotation during the season, to short-circuit a losing string. However, I’m puzzled that lefthanders Lester and Doubront were put back to back. Second, Middlebrooks, Napoli, Salty, and Drew are among the AL leaders in strikeouts. It seems that when they are not raking, but rather struggling at the plate, their strikeout-proneness means fewer runs knocked in via the sac fly, the FC or through an error. Do you see this as a weakness in the Sox offense?
David, Aurora, Ohio
I’ll answer the second question first. Players see strikeouts as outs. They are, but like you said, a strikeout is the type of out that doesn’t create a potentially positive result. A ground ball could score a run, there could be an error. There could be a fly ball that’s dropped. You’re right. So the high strikeout totals do reduce the potential to score runs. As for the rotation, the only criteria I have is, pitch your best guys as often as possible. So if it’s Lester, Buchholz, and Dempster, then go with it regardless of what arm they throw with.
I’m one of the few Sox fans who was a Lackey guy before they signed him, was happy when they did sign him, and still am happy he was kept. He shows passion and a will to win. He doesn’t accept losing and gives 100 percent each time. I never got why fans were so against that. At least the guy cares about winning. But it does seem the fans are starting to come around on him. I still hear that he is vastly overpaid, but is he, really? He is signed through 2014 at $15 million per year with the Sox holding a team option for 2015 at only the league minimum, so when looked at it that way, his contract is a three-year, $30 million contract, $10 million per year. Sure, overpaid, but not vastly.
Patrick, Amherst
It’s become a better contract post-Tommy John for sure. If he continues to pitch this way, you gladly spend the money ($10 million on average) for a good fourth or fifth starter on a high-payroll team.
What’s happening with Ryan Kalish. Is he playing somewhere?
Al, Pensacola, Fla.

Down in Fort Myers on rehab. Just trying to get healthy.
I know that character does not win games directly, that play does. However, it seems like this year the character of the players and manager has made a difference. Seems to me Ben has picked up players that fit well together, and there is no backstabbing or frowns. Do you agree?
Glenn, Dundee, Fla.
Yes. They are together. The players buy into the manager. It runs well that way. Whether that efficiency leads to wins, I don’t know. They seem very prepared for games and they buy into the game plan that day. I think that can win games.
From WebMD: “A bone spur forms as the body tries to repair itself by building extra bone. It typically forms in response to pressure, rubbing, or stress that continues over a long period of time.” One can only assume Hanrahan arrived as damaged goods. Preseason physicals find an asymptomatic condition in Napoli’s hips but miss bone spurs in a pitcher’s pitching elbow? How does this get missed?
Brian, Whately
Maybe it wasn’t missed. Maybe they thought he could pitch with bone spurs. I don’t know the answer. The Red Sox knew that Lackey had elbow issues. But in this case (Hanrahan), it was a one-year deal.
Many years ago, MLB created the sacrifice fly rule to help raise batting averages. To me, it is an artificial rule (the batter was trying to get a hit) and no longer necessary. Why does MLB keep it?
Jerry, Rio Rancho, N.M.
Not to be a wise guy, Jerry, but I think you might be the only person who has thought about this. Personally, it’s not something that keeps me up at night.
Do you think the Red Sox are not giving Jose Iglesias the maximum opportunity to succeed because they think Xander Bogaerts will probably be ready for The Show at about the same time? After all, when Pedroia came up, he was floundering at the plate for a while but they stuck with him.
Anthony, Salado, Texas
Ah, maybe. They’ve had chances to deal Iglesias and haven’t done it. That leads me to believe they have a future plan for him.
I’m interested in when this agenda to have Jose Iglesias be the everyday shortstop for the Red Sox by you will ever stop? This is the third year in a row now that this kid hasn’t hit in Triple A, never mind the majors, but here you are, Nick, still shouting from the rooftop to have him play. Just because he is a fine defender doesn’t change the fact the guy can’t hit his weight. Also, we have a proven shortstop that is hitting and fields just fine in Stephen Drew.
Brian, Indian Harbor Beach, Fla.

Silly me.
Is it my imagination or does Ellsbury more often than not swing at the first pitch? The Sox have always worked pitchers deep into the count.
David, New York

Yeah, he swings a lot at the first pitch – 26 times so far for a .346 average, an .885 OPS, so that’s pretty good.
At the beginning of the year, Rubby De La Rosa was somewhat written off because in his first three outings at Pawtucket, he gave up 10 runs in 6.2 innings. Since then, however, he has given up 0 runs in 14 innings, striking out 19. While Webster has shown he is not ready, isn’t it time to try out De La Rosa, who has more major league experience and is a year older?
Christopher, Santa Fe
I think we’ll see De La Rosa this season, but not sure it’ll be anytime soon — barring a swarm of injuries, that is. He’s coming off Tommy John surgery and they’d like to take it slow and stretch him out at a comfortable pace.