Ask Nick: Can the Red Sox make a deal?

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Lots of great ideas for Ben Cherington in the latest Ask Nick Mailbag. Sox Nation seems to be all for dealing Kevin Youkilis for pitching.

A lot of readers wonder about Ryan Lavarnway’s readiness for the majors.

Let’s get to the questions:

What about a sit-down with Davey Lopes for the Sox manager? Lopes is a Providence native who has managed in the bigs. Also, how about trading Youkilis while he has value? Send him to his hometown Reds, maybe we get Arroyo back as part of the deal. Lastly, I’d like to see Boston carry a third catcher that can DH and play other positions to give the team more flexibility. Had the Sox kept Victor Martinez they would have made the playoffs.
Ralph, Pompano Beach, Fla.


Davey is a great baseball man, but has never been considered managerial timber. That’s not to say he wouldn’t do a great job. Not sure Youkilis trade value is that high after two straight injury-filled seasons. As I wrote last week, the Reds still have Scott Rolen at third and Joey Votto at first base. As for the third catcher, they may do that with Ryan Lavarnway and also keep Jason Varitek.

The Sox need to get back to the Patriots’ philosophy of not paying for past performance for these free agents. Not everyone can handle the pressure cooker of Boston, especially in the closer role. Why not pay Papelbon whatever value is determined on the open market? If Bard is your closer, add at least three more losses to the team’s total.
Keith, Fla.

Can’t dispute your prediction on Bard given the way he pitched from Aug. 1 on. But who knows? He said he had a mechanical flaw that he needed to fix. Maybe he fixes it and he’s lights out. Or maybe he’s a starting pitcher.

Tell me what you think about this trade: Youkilis and Jose Iglesias or Josh Reddick for Justin Upton.
Mike, N.Y.


Not sure why Kevin Towers does it. Towers wanted Clay Buchholz for Justin Upton in the offseason last year. Would you do that?

Hey Nick, Now I know that you receive a LOT of questions about King Felix, but hear me out. Wouldn’t this be the year to go get him? Seattle has never wanted to trade him to us in the past but in 2011 they finished in last place for the second straight year. They are looking to free up some money this year and rebuild around youth. In steps Ben Cherington. Jacoby Ellsbury is only 28 years old and made $2.4 million in 2011. Hernandez has a $7.5M hike giving him a $19.2M salary in 2012. That gives Seattle a major savings. The Mariners have Michael Saunders playing center field for them who has a .196 batting average over the past three seasons. So Ellsbury would be a major upgrade for them in CF. That would give the Red Sox a rotation of Felix Hernandez, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Alfredo Aceves. They could move Carl Crawford to center field and put Josh Reddick and Ryan Kalish as the corner outfielders.
Carl, Willow Grove, Pa.

I love your effort. Ellsbury will be a $20 million-plus player a year from now. Listen, I think what you’re proposing is a great deal. Seattle, and all of us, want to see Ellsbury have another superstar season before we all anoint him. As I’ve written before, Seattle doesn’t have to deal King Felix. The Mariners ownership has money. They have chosen not to spend it recently, but they can and will when they feel the time is right. As for Crawford playing center, forget it. He wants to play left field.
I’m sure the front office has something up there sleeves for this off-season (they always do). But they couldn’t possibly have the pieces for a trade could they? The free agent class is lacking in terms of pitching, so doesn’t that mean a trade is necessary? Any potential targets and what it would cost for them?
Scott, Biloxi/Miss.

Well, they might have the pieces. They’ll be getting compensation from the Cubs in the form of a prospect or two, so they could use that guy. They would have to be willing to give up a Will Middlebrooks or a Jose Iglesias, or Ryan Lavarnway to get something significant like Gio Gonzalez, a 26-year-old lefty who has won 31 games the last two years. I’ve always believed that most players are available — even those with no-trade provisions in their contracts — as long as you pay the price.
Jeff Passan at Yahoo! Sports wrote that the Red Sox and Cubs are at the bottom in terms of their farm systems. Is this a common thinking among those in baseball?

Well, I share some of that opinion, especially on the Cubs. The Red Sox for me are middle-of-pack, but most people go by Baseball America or Baseball Prospectus. Ben Cherington and Theo Epstein have said the Sox are loaded in the lower levels. I guess I just don’t see it, but that’s the way they feel and there’s no reason to doubt that. The Cubs seem to be rated higher than the lowest by both of those publications, but as you actually look at their guys, there aren’t that many good ones that I can see.
What is it about Dave Duncan that other coaches cannot duplicate? I read that without La Russa he may retire to take care of his wife but if not, what are the chances that the Red Sox hire him?
Steve, Huntsville, Ala.

Duncan has a magic touch with pitchers no doubt. He’s great at fixing mechanics and he’s great at game-planning against the opponent. Now why others don’t do it as well, I have no idea. Pitchers tell me he’s the master at both of those things. As for the Red Sox and Duncan, it would be great, but I firmly believe that whoever the new manager is, he should be able to name his coaches.
With the Braves open to moving Jurrjens and maybe even Prado, could you see the Sox making a move to acquire them, and then perhaps moving Youk to more of a DH role, consequently letting Ortiz walk?
Luke, Fla.

Both are good names to bring up. Sure, you could do that, but you’d also have to give up your best prospects to do it. As I said with Gio Gonzalez, you’d have to be willing to give up a couple of those guys between Iglesias, Middlebrooks and Lavarnway. You’d have to come up with a pitching prospect someone would want. That’s seems to be the toughest piece, unless you get a Trey McNutt as compensation from the Cubs.
Nick, Do you think the Red Sox have any interest in John Danks? He’s a young and reliable option for a rotation, and I feel he would be perfect for this team. Do you think a package of Kyle Weiland, Josh Reddick, Jed Lowrie, and a low A ball player could get a deal done?
Eric, Auburn

I would think Danks would be of interest, yes. If you can do it with that package, we could drive them together to the airport.
What do you think the Sox feel about having Saltalamacchia and Lavarnway as the catching duo? Do you think the team feels that Lavarnway might be ready to stay with the big club this season based on what they saw in spring training and in September?
Frank, Framingham

This will a topic that keeps Ben Cherington up at night. Offensively, there’s no reason for Lavarnway to go back to Triple-A. Defensively there is a reason. But if you believe that catching instructor Gary Tuck (and I assume Tuck will be retained) can make him better on the major league team, why not do that?
Do you see the Sox making a run at Cuban superstar Yoenis Cespedes? And if they do land him, do you think it a possibility they try to trade Ellsbury or have him play right field?
Russ, Bothell, Wa.

Sure, they’re in on all of the outstanding international players. Don’t think it would affect Ellsbury. He’s the center fielder for as long as long as he wants to be. He’ll be a free-agent after next season so we’ll see what he and Scott Boras want to do.
I was wondering if the Red Sox are still considering moving the Right Field fences in 6-9 feet this winter to make the bullpens bigger. I know they were thinking about it last winter but it didn’t happen. Thanks.
Ed, Brattleboro, Vt.

Last I heard, that discussion was still on the table.
Where do you think Tito will end up managing?
Ralph, N.H.

I think the St. Louis situation is quite viable, if he wants to manage this soon after the September collapse. Beyond that, future (and I mean next year or after next year) job openings could exist in New York (Mets), Colorado, Houston, San Francisco, Kansas City to name a few.
We all know Cherrington and the Red Sox brass are searching for the new manager, but I am curious as to how a phone call to a person like Valentine would go down? Do they come out and say they want that person as their manager?
Evan, Burlington, Vt.

Bobby V. isn’t with anyone (except ESPN) so they wouldn’t have to ask permission. He’d be a phone call away. With other candidates — coaches or existing managers — you have to fill out a form with Major League Baseball and that form is sent to the team where the candidate is. The team then fills out the form indicating yes or no and it’s sent back to the league and then the team is notified whether the person can be interviewed. Of course, the potential candidate has to give the OK that he wants to interview.
Dan Duquette has not been a GM in years. Since the club chooses whom to interview, how does someone let it be known that they are interested in becoming a GM again and get a club to consider them?
Gary, Summerville S.C.
Probably applies for the job. He or she sends his resume to the person hiring — the owner. I’m willing to bet Dan got huge support from Bud Selig, who gave Duquette his first job in Milwaukee. Selig has always thought Duquette should get back in.
Dear Nick: If I were Ben Cherrington, I would not sign Ortiz. Instead, I would sign Reyes and trade for David Wright. The Red Sox Would have the best four infielders
and could move Youkilis to DH.Is this possible?
Jorge, Mexico City

Anything is possible, Jorge. With Reyes it’s just a matter of money. For Wright, you have to give the Mets something compelling in return. I’m sure they want pitching and therein would lie the problem. The Sox don’t have a lot of pitching unless they decided to trade someone like Daniel Bard.
With a need for starting pitcher in 2012, would you look into re-acquiring Anibal Sanchez? Nothing stands out for starting pitcher on the free agent list, but Sanchez is a free agent next year. It may take something like a Reddick and a Oscar Tejada and maybe another minor leaguer. I am sure Sanchez will get more on the free agent market than the future Miami Marlins may want to pay, but with a new stadium, they may make the commitment to Sanchez. Your thoughts?
Clint, Keene, N.H.

Good name. Sox always thought Sanchez would be a good middle-rotation starter and that’s what he is when healthy. They feared he would have trouble staying healthy and that’s been an issue at times. But you’re right. They are trying to make a splash with the new stadium and will likely try to retain their best players and then add a major free-agent or two.
What prospects could help the Red Sox in the next two years?
Donald, Ocala, Fla.

Kalish, Iglesias, Lavarnway, Doubront.
Given that the Cubs cupboard is pretty bare (why couldn’t Theo have gone to the Rays or Royals?), I was looking at their major league roster. One guy who caught my eye who might be of some help as part of a package was relief pitcher Sean Marshall. He’s a 29-year-old, 6-7 lefty who’s had good numbers for a bad team the last two years. He even had decent numbers in the postseason when the Cubs made it in ’08. Very good vs. lefties (.503 OPS in 2011) but not a lefty specialist (97 ABs vs. L, 185 ABs vs. R in ’11). Sounds like a perfect fit for us, perhaps in a package with a prospect or two.
Brian, Sparks, Nev.

Receiving an established player is a good thing, too, but I’d rather they get a pitching prospect because then you could flip him and one of your other prospects in a deal for a good starting pitcher if you need to.
Could we sign Bedard and use him for long relief?
Neil, Billerica

You could, but he’ll get a starting job somewhere. I’m not impressed with his durability.
Obviously we need a fifth starter for next season, maybe even a sixth. Is there any chance that the Sox could sign Mark Buerhle? Also, I think Aceves has at least earned a shot at a rotation spot. I really don’t know who else could fill the spot. Spending a lot of money on C.J. Wilson does not seem like a great option. I don’t see many suitable free agent possibilities. Do you?
Ethan, Somerville

Love the Buerhle idea. Aveves has earned a spot in the rotation, but the old manager loved him in his all-purpose role. I think they’d like to keep him there.
What are your thoughts on Carlos Quentin? He seems like he would be a good fit and Chicago would appear to be a good trade partner.
RY, Marblehead

I think the White Sox would make him available. The Red Sox did explore him at the trading deadline, but couldn’t matchup with the ChiSox. Don’t know if that could change this offseason, but worth a try.
Nick, I am a huge Youk fan, but I am not quite as impressed with his defense at third as I was at first, plus he is getting a little older and numbers are coming down. How about a trade with Cleveland to get Masterson back (never wanted him to go). Youk plus one other player (Reddick or Jed Lowrie). It could be a win/win for both teams as they need offense to compete with tigers and we need a pitcher.
Craig, Huntsville, Texas

Theo has tried to get Masterson back a couple of times. The Youk possibility is interesting. The Indians, buy acquiring Derek Lowe, seem to be open to acquiring older players. With Grady Sizemore flopping out, maybe they would enjoy having Josh Reddick.
Nick, what about shopping Youk for Gio Gonzalez or Bumgarner? I am sure it would take more than Youk (Reddick?), but if the price tag is not too high I think that is a good idea. Then get Cuddyer to play third and Beltran to man right. Finally, go after Buerhle and more bullpen arms. Also, what is the status of James Shields?
Colchester, Vt.

We know Billy Beane loves Youk! Cuddyer hates playing third so not sure that’s an option, but I like the Beltran, Buerhle ideas. Shields is not a free-agent, you’d have to trade for him.
With Theo gone, does the Red Sox relationship with Scott Boras changed at all?
Adam, Portland, Maine

No. Cherington has been in on those talks with Boras.

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