Ask Nick: Where the Sox go from here

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Readers continue to comment on Globe Sports investigative reporter Bob Hohler’s outstanding piece on the inner problems of the 2011 Red Sox while kudos to Globe Red Sox beat reporter Pete Abraham for his great work in getting Jon Lester to admit he drank beer during games in the clubhouse.

Readers continue to suggest ways to improve the 2012 Sox, suggesting deals for Mariners righty Felix Hernandez, Dodgers rightfielder Andre Either, Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp, and discussion on the Red Sox’ three youngsters — shortstop Jose Iglesias, catcher Ryan Lavarnway and third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

A lot of readers have suggestions for Kevin Youkilis coming or going and more talk on who the Red Sox manager might be.


We obviously still await word on Theo to the Cubs, an on going story which may a resolution before the World Series begins on Wednesday.

Here we go:

Most, if not all, jobs have performance standards which clearly state the requirements of the position involved. Can’t the MLB teams add performance standards to these multi-million dollar contracts so if a John Lackey (just for example) doesn’t perform up to the standards expected, the salary and/or terms of the contract can be reduced or modified in some way so the employer isn’t left holding the bag on a dead-beat employee? P.S. Darnell McDonald would have caught that ball in left field at Camden Yards and we all know it, e.g., Stapleton for Buckner again?
Joe, Ellicott City, Md.

No chance, Joe. The Players Association is way too powerful to allow that. On McDonald, how can you replace a Gold Glove left fielder with a journeyman outfielder?

What do you think of Bob Hohler’s article? Was he with the team? I don’t like unverifiable sources, and question the validity and necessity of what he reported.
Barbara, Lowell

Tremendous job. Very well sourced and researched. There is not one disputable fact in that story. Bob is our investigative reporter and our former Red Sox beat writer.


My question is pretty simple. Jon Lester is part of the Three Amigos, right? He’s also from the Seattle area. Why can’t we package him with Youkilis for King Felix? Mariners need an offensive boost and it’s seems well documented that Youkilis is offensive. Pun definitely intended. And a comment … if the owners want to make a statement, send Lackey out of town somehow, some way, and eat as much of his contract as they have to. And get a manager willing to kick Beckett in the butt. I love that Jack McKeon said he chased him with a baseball bat. Too bad he didn’t connect.
Steve, Dover, N.H.

Theo Epstein has been trying to obtain King Felix forever with no success. It doesn’t appear Seattle wants to do it. I think the Jon Lester bait could make them think twice and having a veteran, professional hitter at a reasonable contract might also be appealing. But having said all that, I still feel that the M’s won’t part with Felix.
Hi, Nick. I’m wondering if the pieces you’re writing from Chicago are being published in a Chicago paper. You seem to have a charitable approach here in preparing Cubs’ fans for the kind of letdown they are used to and doing Theo a favor by lowering the expectations. We know championships don’t come easily. Do they know that in Chicago?
Ferde, Beverly

Well they haven’t won in 103 years, so I’m not trying to lower expectations, just trying to tell it like it is. I truly believe that Cubs owner Tom Ricketts identified the right guy to lead their organization. The name excites people just as Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick excited Patriots fans. The similarities between the Sox-Cubs franchises can’t be denied. Theo brought championships to Boston, therefore fans should feel like he could do the same in Chicago.
Hey Nick, two questions: First how about Brett Butler as Sox manager? He has great credentials, would demand discipline and his fire would appeal to Sox fans. Next, how about moving Lackey to the Dodgers with Josh Reddick and a player to be named for Andre Ethier ?
Jason, Tacoma, Wash.

I would have to do more research on Brett Butler because I never hear his name brought up, and I will do that. Unless that player to be named later in the Lackey-Dodgers deal is Daniel Bard or Jacoby Ellsbury or someone of major significance Ned Colletti isn’t going for that one.
Here’s something that I think has been overlooked in all of this disaster that was the 2011 Red Sox. As much as I’m not trying to throw Demarlo Hale under the bus, but isn’t he responsible for the bench? Making sure everyone’s supposed to be there supporting their teammates? Also, and to much larger point, the last two years the team has finished third. How many years has it been since Brad Mills has been gone? Your thoughts.
Rob, New Rochelle, N.Y.

I can only go by what Terry Francona says about him and that is he was absolutely superb at his job. As close as Francona was to Brad Mills, he commented that Hale may have been even better. I can also go by my own observations of him — if you can’t respect Demarlo Hale then you just don’t respect anyone. This is one of the most professional, caring individuals you’ll ever come across in baseball.
I attended the last games in Baltimore and it didn’t take me long to figure out the Red Sox were defeated before the first game was over. There was not a spark in any of the players, whether on the field or in the dugout. They were a team going through the motions. Now I hear of all the problems that were going on behind closed doors. Would you say it is incorrect if I listed the order of responsibility as follows:
1. The players
2. The manager and his staff
3. Theo
4. Upper management to the owner
Michael, Bradenton, Fla.

I certainly agree with the position you placed the owners in. They’re the least responsible. The players and Theo are at the top for me. Theo put the team together and therefore he should be held responsible for the conduct and performance of the players he brought in. I do place the most blame on the players who should kiss the ground they walk on for playing on this team where they’re likely the best paid team in the majors for their skill sets. And shame on those guys who didn’t show pride or heart to help this team win. Francona lost control of the team, but a lot of that has to do with the type of individuals he had to work with.
Don’t Youk and Crawford deserve some slack for being injured during the season? I say keep ’em both and watch them have a banner come back year in 2012.
Josh, West Palm Beach, Fla.

And there’s a great chance that’s what they’ll do.
Two parts of the Bob Hohler revelations really bothered me. The first is the shabby treatment of Tito. He deserved better and it is hard to understand. I guess the ownership trio are so insecure that someone else is always at fault It is a sad way of saying goodbye. My second surprise was the involvement of Jon Lester in the scandal of the starting pitchers. It is my opinion that the Sox must act to “rescue” Jon as he is a potential No. 1 starter despite his miserable month of September. One way to send a strong message would be to trade both Beckett and Lackey. It would cost a fortune but at the right price both are tradeable, just don’t expect All-Stars in return. Another action would be to let Ortiz walk since he is now unsure where he wants to be. Make Youkilis the DH and install Middlebrooks at third and Iglesias at short. (Not saying Scutaro is a problem) Perhaps the White Sox will take Beckett and a barrel-full of cash for Carlos Quentin. But lets make sure whoever we get will be part of a solution rather than an expansion of a problem.
Dick, Bonita Springs, Calif.

I don’t understand how people assume it was the owners who revealed this about Francona with no proof. That’s very unfair. I think John Henry made a good case on 98.5 that it wasn’t them. I do like your idea about bringing the kids up to add some energy to this team. Going with Middlebrooks, Iglesias and Lavarnway would certainly shake things up. Not sure any of the three are quite ready, but maybe you force them to be and hope they adapt to major league pitching quickly. As for trading Beckett, he makes a lot of money. I think he’ll be on this team and assume his role as No. 1.
Chad Finn had an interesting set of predictions for the offseason. Here’s another plus one for next season: the sale of Red Sox merchandise will be way down this offseason and the Red Sox string of home sellouts will end next season.
Gregg, Chicago

I will make this prediction — the sellout streak will not end, Red Sox merchandise will go through the roof. The Red Sox always do something to get you back and I’m sure they’ll do it again.
With the Ortiz situation will the Sox offer arbitration? If he leaves they’d surely like to get the draft picks. The catch? What if Ortiz accepts arbitration and is given $12+ million. Might it be easier to give him a 1-year deal with a vesting option for a second.Thoughts?
Michael, Martons Mills

I think they’ll attempt something similar to what you’re saying, but I think they will offer arbitration and if he accepts they’ll have a player who came close to 30 homers and 100 RBIs again and who had a very good 2011 season. I’m not sure there’s a downside.
Instead of bring that cry-baby Ortiz back who will not live up to any contact he gets why don’t the Sox go after a clubhouse guy like Michael Young in Texas? He and Youkilis could rotate third base and DH extending both their careers and health. Young wants to play the field.
Chris, Franklin

I can’t tell you how many opportunities the Red Sox have had to obtain Michael Young, but they always backed off. They always felt he contract was too big for the player and I think in hindsight, they were wrong. Ask Demarlo Hale or Terry Francona about Young. Nothing but glowing reports. Hale coached him in Texas and loved the guy. But trying to get him now? Doubt you could.
In the aftermath of the published revelations concerning the dysfunctional 2011 Red Sox, many fans are clamoring for massive changes some of which are unrealistic financially. What are your thoughts concerning the near term future of the team in terms of changing the culture?
Matt, Dover, N.H.

You’re right, probably not much they can do. They could try to move the Lackey contract and eat some of it if he doesn’t need elbow surgery. They can do things like not bringing back Ortiz, Papelbon, Wakefield, Lowrie, Scutaro or Varitek. They won’t bring back J.D. Drew. One good thing is they will have a healthy Clay Buchholz and that should be a major boost for them.
How much pitching will they need this offseason?

At least one more “sure thing” starting pitcher and then sign a couple of bodies they put in Triple-A that are Major League ready. Probably take a chance on a rehab type guy — a Ben Sheets/Brandon Webb type — and see whether they can hit the jackpot. They could resign Erik Bedard, knowing what he is, a six-inning pitcher when healthy, but a guy who gets hurt a lot and misses time.
Why don’t the Sox work a three-way deal for Theo? The Cubs want to get rid of malcontent Zambrano.; he wants to play for Ozzie Guillen.Trade him to the Marlins for a couple of prospects, and flip them to the Sox. They would probably be better ones than the Cubs have anyway.
Stan, Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia

Love it Stan.
Although I know that none have the information to know what scouts and team think I just thought I would add some ideas on possible trades. These are players that are ssaid to be available so it is not impossible. Changes could be made but here goes:
Giants: Matt Cain
Sox: Carl Crawford (it will be difficult for him to perform here and I am sure the Sox need to pick up 50% or so of his salary), Jed Lowrie, Kyle Wieland.
A’s: Gio Gonzalez
Sox: John Lackey (pay at least $40 million of his salary) Ryan Lavarnway, Josh Reddick, and Lars Anderson.
Astros: Wandy Rodriguez
Sox: Josh Beckett (work out the money and only because of the abuse that will be coming to him). Youk to Rockies, Reds, or Brewers. Sign Josh Willingham.
Lineup: Ellsbury, Pedroia, AGon, Willingham, Ortiz, Scutaro, Salty, Aviles, Kalish. Rotation: Lester, Cain, Gonzalez, Buchholz, Rodriguez (Aceves/Miller)
OK that’s it.
Tony, Hillsboro Ore.

Like Gio Gonzalez and Matt Cain but not sure I’d want Wandy Rodriguez to be a replacement for Josh Beckett. It will be interesting to see what kind of value Youkilis has this offseason. Coming off a hernia operation I’m not sure he’s going to be too much in demand.
Here’s a few suggestions for offseason moves for the Sox: Trade Lackey to the Cubs even up for Zambrano. Regarding Ortiz: I would let him walk and sign Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez and Youkilis could alternate between third base and DH, keeping them both somewhat fresh. Youkilis could also spell Gonzalez at first base and let Gonzalez DH, giving him a partial day but also keeping his bat in the lineup. I would also try to sign Michael Cuddyer should he not return to the Twins. Ramirez and Cuddyer would beef up their lineup from the right side of the plate. Other pitching moves: Resign Papelbon and Aceves. I agree with signing Mark Buerhle. He would be a huge upgrade over Wakefield. Bullpen wise it would be Pap( closer) Aceves (setup) Morales (lefty short man) Other candidates to round out the pen would come from Weiland, Doubront, Albers, Jenks, Wheeler, and Atchison.
Mark, Lynn

You have a plan, no doubt about it. Not a big Aramis Ramirez fan. His performance is too inconsistent for me. I’m sure someone will give him money because he’s a third baseman, but I doubt it will be Boston because they do have Middlebrooks coming up. I like Cuddyer, but he’s 32 years old and I wouldn’t go crazy. They already have Crawford until he’s 37 years old, and Youkilis is also 32, so you don’t want to get too old. I do like the idea of at least experimenting with Bard as a starter, but Zambrano? Hmm. That’s major, major cross-your-fingers, hold-your-breath territory there.
Do you media types have any shame?
James, Milton

You should be ashamed of your question.
Why is it when the Red Sox owners don’t say anything about the failure of the season, all you here on talk radio is they should. But, John Henry does go on and speaks from his heart for 70 minutes all everybody wants to talk about is his two-minute rant about Carl Crawford and not the positive things he said.
Glenn, Chicopee

I agree, but don’t know why he went on talk radio.
Any chance the Sox look into a Jacoby Ellsbury for Matt Kemp trade? The Dodgers with there current financial issues will never be able to afford Kemp and Ellsbury is still under contract for another two years. The Sox could offer a base package of Ells, Lowrie and Lavarnway for Kemp. Is this realistic or am I just dreaming?
Chad Freadman, Durham, N.H.

I would do it, but not sure what’s in it for the Dodgers. Ellsbury has another year of arbitration and then he can be a free-agent. They’re both going to be high-ticket items, so not sure what the Dodgers are saving by doing this. I would just throw on Lavarnway because he’s got value. Lowrie for sure.
Do you think Adrian Gonzalez should bat sixth?
Thurston, Washingtonville, N.Y.

He’s too good of a hitter to bat that far down. His lack of power may have been due to a fatigued shoulder later in the year. I would guess that gets better. He still had an outstanding statistical season.
Why do you think AJ Hinch’s name is becoming so popular. He wasn’t that great in Arizona what makes you think he would be good in Boston? I know you said he is a “smart, analytical guy” and other reports say that he would be a good fit in Boston, what do you think? Do you think he could follow in the path of a John Farrell who went from the front office to Sox pitching coach and then manager?
Sasha, Norwich

Hinch is the 21st century manager who goes strictly by the book on his metrics and statistical analysis. Those in charge who share that method of running a baseball team would favor him. He was not successful in his first stint in Arizona, but a lot of managers have failed the first time. Would his methods go over in Boston? Hard to tell. Much like Francona inherited a team with talent in 2004, Hinch would also inherit a team with talent now.
Do you think the Sox will pick up the option for 2012 on Marco Scutaro? If the team is all about promoting character this guy has earned another year. He’s played hurt and put up good numbers the last few weeks of the season.
Tom M., Pahrump, Nev.

I think they should or at least negotiate a lower salary. I think he’s a useful, valuable guy. He’s one of the players who played all-out, played hurt and gave it everything he had all of the time. He had a good offensive season and his defensive numbers were average. I’d say re-sign him until it’s time to transition Jose Iglesias into the mix.

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