Ask Nick: Why is Gomes hitting second?

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The Red Sox begin a short homestand tonight with the Texas Rangers, and face a tough rest of the month ahead on the schedule, so we’ll see what the Red Sox are made of.

Readers’ concerns this week include playing time for Jose Iglesias once Will Middlebrooks gets back, possible deals, Jacoby Ellsbury’s future and Jonny Gomes’ tough start.

Let’s get to the questions:

With Jonny Gomes struggling so much, why is he batting second? I think Gomes is a good hitter, but right now (much to my surprise) I would move Iglesias to the second slot and Gomes to eighth or ninth.
Steven, Broomall, Penn.
Hit .330 with 7 homers and 16 RBI as a No. 2 hitter last season for Oakland. I wouldn’t put that kind of pressure on Iglesias. I still think when all is said and done Pedroia should hit No. 2 and move everyone else up.

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This is a big IF, but if Jackie Bradley Jr. starts to consistently hit, and Jacoby Ellsbury proves he can come out of his slump, could the Sox try trading Ells before the deadline?
Ethan, Westport, Conn.
Don’t think so. Ellsbury is too valuable to deal. If you think you can win with this team, Ellsbury must stay. You roll the dice, take the draft picks and move on. But to eliminate a major player during a pennant drive doesn’t seem logical to me.

The Red Sox have a few good shortstops in the minors. What are the chances that Xander Bogaerts is moved to third and Will Middlebrooks either moved to first, or traded by 2014?
Jim, California City, Calif.
Possible. I think Bogaerts could be moved to the outfield if they feel Middlebrooks is their man at third, which I think they do.

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How long does a prospect typically have to perform well before being moved up to the next level? For example a guy like Garin Cecchini has been hitting very well at Salem and it doesn’t appear there is really a great third baseman in front of him at Portland.
Adam, Clarkston, Mich.
No formula. I know Theo Epstein thought a kid should have 500 Triple A at-bats, but there doesn’t seem to be any proof that’s beneficial. Cecchini will likely get moved soon. Sometimes you want the kid to taste success and build confidence before exposing him to the next level.
After a hot start, Mike Napoli turned into a swing-and-miss strikeout machine for the month of May. Am I the only one concerned about this? Two homers in a month (seems like it anyway) and a ton of strikeouts isn’t cutting it for a cleanup hitter.
Steve, Springfield, Va.

You wrote this before Saturday’s game. He’s picked it up pretty well since then. He’s a swing and miss guy, but when he connects, he does some serious damage. He’s not a concern.
Do you think Will Middlebrooks’ wrist injury from last year has affected his hitting this year? It seems like his bat speed is slower, and he is not getting around on a fastball.
John, Greenville, Maine
Who knows? Only he knows that. He’s had two other injuries since that, so he’s beaten up pretty good. I’m sure all of that, plus the sophomore adjustments he’s had to make, have affected his bottom line. His next challenge is to overcome all of that and take the next step. It’s not easy.
Why haven’t the Red Sox ever tried to get Fernando Rodney? He is the best after Mariano Rivera.
Diaz, Quebec
I think Papelbon is the best closer after Rivera. It’s never come up about Rodney. They traded for Andrew Bailey when Rodney was with Tampa Bay.
I love John Farrell as a manager, but has there been any discussion about his overusage of the pitchers? Also, there have been some very strange lineups lately. I know this point has been brought up a lot recently, but Dustin Pedroia is not a No. 3 hitter.
Ethan, Baltimore
Great questions Ethan. One thing I’ve learned about Farrell is he doesn’t like babying pitchers. If you’re supposed to be a horse for this team, then be a horse. That’s why Jon Lester pitches deep and throws a lot of pitches – he’s the horse. They want Clay Buchholz to be that horse as well. They want him well over 200 innings, maybe even 220 before it’s over. As for the bullpen, managers always wear them out. They try not to, but they do. That’s why you have to have depth. Joe Girardi is one of the best at managing a bullpen. I think Farrell has done OK there. He’s tried to stay away from Koji Uehara back-to-back. He’s had a few injuries and has had to mix and match. I’m not concerned yet. Bottom line on his lineups – they’re producing. I don’t like Pedroia third either, but the lineups see a lot of pitches, grind out at-bats. Hard to complain. Best wishes to your uncle Daryl. If he’s a Red Sox fan, he’s strong.
The names you mentioned about possibly acquiring at the trade deadline are top names, something that has gotten us in trouble in the past. I think a power arm to possibly replace Hanrahan could be Brian Wilson? A hitter with pop I was thinking of was Josh Willingham.
Sean, Southington, Conn.
Big name players can be good. I don’t think Cliff Lee is going to let you down. Brian Wilson is a rehab guy. You wouldn’t choose him and depend on him to be your closer. You could add him to your bullpen for sure, but you can’t take that chance with a rehab guy. Willingham is a good player. Always liked him. As long as Nava hits, you won’t see a move like that.
Why has Rubby De La Rosa been starting for Pawtucket and pitching four and only four innings? Do the Sox see him as a starter or a relief pitcher? Also, why doesn’t Junichi Tazawa start?
Andrew, State College, Penn.
De La Rosa is being stretched out slowly after returning from Tommy John surgery. You’ll see him go six or seven shortly. The Red Sox think he can help in their bullpen later this season if there’s a need. But he’s remaining a starter in the minors. Tazawa was a starter, but after his TJ surgery, the Red Sox felt he was better off out of the bullpen. I agree.
Iglesias seems ready as a starting shortstop. He’s great in the majors, but in a funk when optioned. Should we trade Drew to give him the job, and also trade Carp to allow a platoon of Gomes and Bradley in left field?
Alan, Concord
Of course Iglesias is ready to start in the majors. He was ready out of camp. I don’t think they’ll trade Drew. He’s a veteran presence at an important position, so they’ll keep him. I don’t foresee any deal of the extra outfielders. Victorino will be back in due time and things will look different out there.
The Sox are really fun to watch again and really seem to like each other. I know Ellsbury staying here has been ruled out by everyone, but do you think that with the new attitude that he may now be willing to stay?
John, Marstons Mills
He’s always been willing to stay. It’s up to the Red Sox if they want him.
What is Ryan Kalish doing?
Al, Pensacola, Fla.

Working out in Fort Myers.
What’s wrong with Jerry Remy? Replacements are terrible – far too long winded and repetitive to boot.
Tom, Fairfax, Va.
Allergies is what NESN is reporting.

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