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Touching All the Bases

Sunday Mail: How About An Adrian Beltre Sequel with the Red Sox? Unlikely, Yet Easy to Imagine

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Trade idea!

The Red Sox probably wouldn't be inclined to pay a 36-year-old -- even one with whom they are admiringly familiar such as Beltre, who in 2010 became the best one-and-done in Sox history since Nick Esasky in '89 -- anything approaching $18 million next season. David Ortiz is the exception to the rule there, the highly-paid veteran star far on the wrong side of 30, but it's unlikely they'll make another.

(That 2016 option vests if he has 1,200 combined plate appearances in 2014-15 and 600 next season. Seems unlikely.)

Yes, this is just fun conjecture for now, a daydream about reacquiring an excellent player who was productive and so damn enjoyable for the brief time he was here. He's continued to be everything for Texas that he was during that sole season in Boston -- he's hit between 28 and 36 homers in each of the last four seasons, with his OPS ranging from .880 to .921.

And it's impossible not to recognize that he's exactly what they need right now. The Red Sox have a third base problem. Will Middlebrooks struggled again when healthy (.197/.305/.324), and now he's hurt. Brock Holt is a Quadruple A player. Jonathan Herrera is a utility guy. Prospect Garin Cecchini can't handle the position defensively yet. And the left-side infield defense is the most glaring downgrade on the roster from a season ago. Beltre, still a brilliant defender, would help in all regards.

Yes, the cost would be high -- the Rangers would and should demand an array of talented prospects in return. The Red Sox would have to weigh the benefits of trading some of the prizes of their farm system for an aging veteran like Beltre rather than waiting for a blockbuster pr a deal for a star entering his prime to come along.

But the thought of Adrian Beltre coming back to Boston is fun to think about at the least. Especially because there's logic to be found in the conjecture.

On to ...

THE MAILBOX

JBJ is hitting .205ish. I like the kid and want him to do well, but he seems overmatched at times and at other times taking way too many pitches, especially with 2 strikes. How long with Sox patience last here? Hard to carry an OF with this little power for an entire season, no?
-- Ellis Burks

How long do the Sox stay with Jackie Salami Bat Jr as the starting CF? He is BRUTAL with the lumber. How did he ever hit 14 HR last year in AAA? His OPS is .600! He's killing that lineup. The Red Sox lineup looks like the San Diego Padres' the way Middlebrooks. Bogaerts, and Salami Bat Jr. are hitting. Particularly, considering the AL East is theirs for the taking.
-- Rolando Arrojo

Actually, I look at it the other way. The condensed AL East has allowed the Red Sox to be patient with Bradley (and Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks). Had some team pulled away from the pack, that's when you'd have to start thinking about making a change, before the division started to get away from them. I admit it's getting frustrating watching him hit -- he's even admitting to frustration himself -- but I don't think we're anywhere near looking for a long-term alternative. He's yet to prove he can hit big league pitching, and there are questions about his ability to catch up to a good fastball. But because his defense is so spectacular, you can justify his place in the lineup while giving him a real chance to prove that he can hit at this level. Remember, this is a player who has started slow at every level and eventually figured it out. He barely played a full season between Double A and Triple A, and he had a better year at Pawtucket last season than he did at Portland the season before. He's a kid who has a habit of figuring it out. I suspect he'll eventually reward those who are patient, and I hope the Sox remain so.

I'm not even a huge Bruins fan but I don't get the bashing of Milan Lucic at all. I mean, get over it. The handshake line is cool and all, but I think its a bit overblown and God forbid a competitive athlete is worked up after a heated loss like that. Yeah, not the "classiest" thing in the world, but I can't believe this much time is being spent on it .
-- Mike

Completely agree. He was furious that they lost and that rage was enhanced by the fact that it was the sniveling Canadiens. This mesmerizing video ...

... is a case study of an athlete taking a loss hard. Isn't that how you want them to be, how you want to see them? As mad as you are?

So now that the Bruins season is over, what are the chances Jamie Erdahl moves over to the Sox sideline reporter gig after a well deserved break?
--- Mark

NESN says it's not happening and that the search is ongoing for a full-time Sox reporter. Too bad. She did a really good job with it last year filling in for Jenny Dell.

The 2016 and 2018 Nets picks are going to fuel the Celtics into contenders. Joe Johnson and Deron Williams are playing like they are 35. Great move, Danny! I just hope the Celtics take a slow, conservative approach to rebuilding rather than trading for veterans. The stars aligned in 2007, you can't force that.
-- Arthur

lovekevin518finn.JPGYou can't, though the report today that the T-Wolves are listening to offers for Kevin Love certainly perks up the ears of Celtics fans. I hope they don't try to force the issue by giving up a package of these intriguing, increasingly valuable future draft picks from the Clippers and Nets for a veteran star just to try to accelerate the process back to relevance. Especially a veteran star who plays no defense, like Love or Carmelo Anthony. The Celtics were so incredibly fortunate to be able to acquire Kevin Garnett, a maniac on defense who didn't give a flying damn about shots and did all the little things you'd expect from someone fighting to stay in the league rather than an established superstar. He hadn't won anything of substance until he got here, but he sure did have the attributes of a champion. I'm not sure the most prominent veteran stars who may be available this offseason have that something extra. I mean, Love is a blast to watch, but shouldn't he have played in a playoff game by now, six years into his career?

Chad, Rob Neyer just said in his chat that a lot of Clay Buchholz's variation can be attributed to BABiP (low last year, high this year), and he's probably somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. I'll relax a bit if that is the case.
-- Warrior

I don't buy it, mostly because I vividly remember that Blue Jays start on April 26, when he allowed three early runs, then settled down and allowed no one else to score in a seven-inning, six-hit performance. That was considered a good start, and technically it was, but watching it, he was lucky as hell on batted balls. The Jays hit rockets all day -- they just happened to find gloves. Buchholz has given up more than twice as many hits this year as he did a season ago (13.2 per nine to 6.2 per nine last season). Some of that is BABIP-induced misfortune, sure. Some is probably due to the less dependable infield defense. But it's mostly due to the fact that he's not nearly the pitcher he was a season ago. His stuff isn't as sharp or consistent across his entire repertoire. His velocity is down. His command is off. Yeah, he's been unlucky, I'm sure. But he's also been comparatively lousy. Put it this way: He's given up 13 fewer hits this year than he did all of last year in 66 fewer innings. That's not BABIP. That's the enigma named Buchholz.

Until next week, the mailbox is closed. Exit music, please.

A quick survey of Twitter will tell you beyond a doubt that there's no musician sportswriters of a certain age admire more than Bruce Springsteen. But Billy Joel is definitely the first runner-up.