Ask Nick: So long, Papelbon

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Here at the general managers meetings in Milwaukee, the questions are coming fast and furious on the loss of Jonathan Papelbon. I’ve already given my take. But to repeat my opinion, I think it was a mistake to lose him. I don’t think anyone out there is as good and the Phillies, who usually make good judgments on players, felt that Papelbon was worth the money and Ryan Madson wasn’t.

I am also amazed at the number of readers who have proposed the Red Sox deal Jacoby Ellsbury. I always thought he was one of the most popular players on the team.


The manager search brings us to Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum for a second interview this week here in Milwaukee. John Henry will meet with him again. Sveum was passed up for the Milwaukee job in favor of Ron Roenicke, but he now seems to be high atop the Red Sox/Cubs list.

Here are this week’s questions:

While I agree that the Red Sox are in apparent need of a strong manager, I like the idea of possibly finding that next great manager. In your thoughts, what are the downsides to hiring a manager without major league managing experience like a Torey Lovullo as opposed to someone you’ve documented your support for, Bobby Valentine? Also, where is Mike Stanley these days? I always thought he would make a good manager. Love your Sunday baseball column!
— Shawn A, Saugerties, New York

I think the Red Sox are thinking your way – find the next great manager. Certainly the Cards are taking that approach in naming Mike Matheny. So this is obviously the trend. I wrote about the organizational approach to managing the team and that’s the way it’s going. Little by little, the authority figures like La Russa, Leyland, etc., will go by the wayside and we’ll see more no-names getting the jobs. Mike Stanley was in the Orlando area, raising his kids. I’d think he’d like to get back into the game at some point.


Hello Nick, what do you think about the Red Sox trading Jacoby Ellsbury and another prospect (Jed Lowrie?) to the Giants for Tim Lincecum? I think it would be a huge deal for both teams as the Red Sox would have an amazing rotation and the Giants would get a great offensive center fielder they desperate need, plus the shortstop they also need. I would do it if I were Ben Cherington. Would you?
— Pepe, Yucatan, Mexico

Lincecum is terrific. Not sure either team would do it. The Giants just acquired Melky Cabrera and traded Jonathan Sanchez, so not sure they’re in the market to deal their best pitcher.

Who do you see as a better fit to play right field, Carlos Beltran or Grady Sizemore?
— Harold, Boston

They both break down, but I’ll take Beltran. I know Sizemore is only 29, and there’s a close race between the two on injuries, but I think Beltran can still really hit.
Hi Nick: I am puzzled that the Red Sox did not sign Jonathan Papelbon.They are quite inconsistent. They posted $50 million to have the right to sign Daisuke Matzusaka. They gave J.D. Drew a contract of $70 million. They gave John Lackey [$82.5 million]. Papelbon is young and has been the best relief pitcher for the Red Sox ever. Now they are going to give David Ortiz, who is old, slow, and one-dimensional a two-year deal of at least $20 million.They also gave Carl Crawford $142 million..You have to be an outsider to get millions from tha Red Sox. How can you explain that? We will lose Ellsbury very soon.
— Jorge V., Mexico City, Mexico

All legitimate questions. Ones that I have raised as well. But I guess they feel Papelbon was too risky for four years. The Phillies thought it was too risky to give their own guy – Ryan Madson — four years and thought Papelbon was the better alternative at more money. Now the Red Sox seem to be kicking the tires on Madson. Go figure.
Starting pitching: There was a time when Roy Oswalt was one of the best pitchers in the National League. Is the consensus that age and injuries have made him a bad gamble for a team that needs a fourth or fifth starter? If that’s the consensus, is it possible that that will drive his asking price far enough down that the Red Sox wouldn’t have to gamble very much money on him and it would turn into a worthwhile low-stakes signing after all?
— Mark R., Anchorage, Alaska

It would be ideal to sign him to a two-year deal with a vested option. I love his mentality and his ability. He’d be a terrific presence on this Red Sox staff. He’d be a good role model.
HI Nick. Couple of a questions:
* Could the Sox make Aceves the closer? It seems he would have the arm and attitude to make it work.
*Any truth to what Jim Bowden said about Carl Crawford being traded to the Cubs this year?
*WIll Xander Bogaerts stay at SS or move to the outfield? He seems to be coming on very quickly?
— Tony B., Hillsboro, Oregon

I think Aceves could do it, but he would really rather be a starting pitcher. So if he’s not mentally into it, I wouldn’t attempt it. If you believe that environment had something to do with Crawford’s performance then Chicago is a better fit. I would not never rule out anything now that Theo Epstein is in Chicago. As for Bogaerts I’m sure they’ll leave him alone right now and see how well or slowly Jose Iglesias ascends to the majors.
With all of these talks swirling about Grady Sizemore potentially coming to the Sox, do you think its a good idea? It could be one of those “high risk, high reward” deals like the Yanks pulled off with both Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia last year. Not to mention Andruw Jones, who showed up from time to time for them.
— Ryan, New York

If you can get him cheaply and if if you have a backup plan (which they do with Josh Reddick and Ryan Kalish) sure. But don’t forget there are teams lining up for him, so that drives up the price.
Although Carlos Beltran would be a good fit for RF and the second spot in the lineup, wouldn’t it be better to get a righthanded-hitting platoon player and spend more on pitching? In that regard, they can either go after a starter like Yu Darvish, Mark Buehrle or Edwin Jackson or a reliever like Brad Lidge or Joe Nathan and make Alfredo Aceves or Daniel Bard a starter.
— Bill F., Bronx, New York

Not sure where money is such a big factor here. They have to obtain a No. 4 and No. 5 starter, need a rightfielder to replace a $14 million player like J.D. Drew. They have said they won’t go after high-priced starting pitchers, so why not spend a little bit on an everyday rightfielder? Not sure you can go into a season feeling Lidge or Nathan are your closers. Nathan’s velocity has dropped since the Tommy John and Lidge has a long injury history. As set-up men? You could take that chance much like the Red Sox did with Bobby Jenks last season.
First, with everything that`s gone on in the last couple of months do you think the team can take a public relations hit like losing Papi and Pap? I mean after what they made last year the money difference won`t be that significant. Second, do you think it’s time to move Kevin Youkilis? Put a package together with him, Lars Anderson (who really has no future here) and one of the kids for a solid starter, and then sign Aramis Ramirez. Just a thought, I really think they need to go after Carlos Beltran, use the money they save on Drew and he’d still come cheaper. Last, change the culture completely around and hire Sandy Alomar as the the manager. OK, looks like I have it all figured out!
— Mike L., Lakeland, Florida

They can take any PR hit as long as they have a solution. Not sure what the real solution is to losing Papelbon. On Ortiz, there are more solutions, but it appears they’re trying harder on Papi then on Pap. I’ve never been a huge Aramis Ramirez fan simply because of his inconsistencies. On Beltran, I’m on board.
I am surprised that the Sox would even consider going after Carlos Beltran. Yes, he is [a switch-hitter], and may have some pop left in his bat. But his age? There are a couple of players in the Sox system (Kalish, Josh Reddick, even Darnell McDonald) who would be able to play right field. They should use these players and use their money toward pitching. I would also try trading Lowrie. He cannot seem to stay healthy enough to play a full season. I was impressed with him in the beginning but the the last few seasons have been too much. If he can’t be healthy then it’s time to unload.
— Bob T., Keene, New Hampshire

Beltran is ideal because he’s a switch-hitter with power and a good defender. Kalish missed all of last season which should have been his Triple A time so he may need to go back for a while and play. We saw Reddick and it was a mixed bag. The only free-agent pitcher I’d spend big money on is Buehrle.
Making a firm respectful offer to Bobby Valentine seems like the obvious choice for the Red Sox. He has the experience, the ‘big market’ temperament, baseball IQ off the charts; he is a great communicator and commands respect. I understand due diligence, but with two other also in the hunt, why not give him the respect he deserves and make him an offer he can not refuse? Most of the other interviewees are minor leaguers compared to Bobby Valentine. Wouldn’t it make sense to let him know that we like him and need him ?
— Dana G., Los Angeles

Couldn’t agree with you more, but they seem afraid of him for some reason.
What current major league players does Ryan Lavarnway compare to? He seems to resemble a Mike Napoli-type player. Do his projected numbers in the majors support this?
— Peter, Alexandria, Virginia

You hit it – Napoli.
Regarding the Theo Epstein move to Chicago, what incentive do the Cubs have to give the Sox anyone of great worth? As the Cubs already have what they wanted, it seems to me the Sox have no leverage. Makes me think of those crime dramas when two groups of people, standing by their cars on opposites sides on a field, do a prisoner exchange. Each side is so careful not to be duped that the two prisoners start walking towards the other camp very slowly and at the same time while snipers stay ready in the background.
— Walter, New York, New York

Seems to be coming down to the Commish making the call. I would think that office would want to stop the rash of teams stealing other team’s managers and executives. So maybe the price will be decent.
As far as looking for a righthanded hitters for the outfield why can’t the Sox at least look at moving Carl Crawford to right? He has the speed to cover a lot of ground and left feild traditionally requires the least amout of fielding skill. This would open more possiblities for the vacancy.
— Chris, Franklin

Makes sense except for the weak arm and the fact he’d rather play left field.
With the search for a replacement manager dragging, why has there been no mention of Don Baylor for the position?
— Ed, Kingston, New Hampshire

Too much experience? Don’t know. Not sure what the criteria are and he’s not an up-and-coming guy, but a been-there-done-that type which they seem to be staying away from.
This may be a strange question. When a team like the Red Sox brings a candidate to town for an interview, do they pay for the candidate’s travel expenses?
— Michael C., Savannah, Georgia

Nick, I’ve been hearing alot about this Cuban player Yoenis Cespedes. Watched his “infomercial” and looks pretty impressive. What are the chances he could be our right fielder next year? Thanks
— Jeff W., Dacula, Georgia

The Red Sox are one of the teams on him. Then it comes down to comfort. Where would he fit in best? He does fit them because he’s righthanded with power.
Nick, isn’t it ridiculous that the Red Sox won’t issue No. 21? Traitor Clemens is long gone having spurned the Sox twice (remember 2007? He took Yankee $$$$ rather than come back here to help us win a series). And don’t say this is like Jim Rice’s situation, just waiting for the Hall to beckon. If by some miracle Traitor gets in the Hall, he’ll go in as a proud member of the Evil Empire. Enough! Issue No. 21 to some scrub in spring training this year!
— Tom, Hawaii

Disagree. He was a great player here and that should be respected. He was offered virtually nothing. You would have left too.

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