Ask Nick: Will starters bounce back?

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Rightly so, readers are concerned about life without David Ortiz. How will the Sox make up for his loss, which could be at least through April?

The schedule is tough over the first 13 games, but if the Sox pitch well, they should be able to get through it and keep their head above water.

The Yankees, don’t forget, are trying to do that without two major pieces – Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira (and we’re not even mentioning the longer-term Alex Rodriguez situation) – so both teams appear to be in a similar situation of needing to bide their time and hope their pitching keeps them in ballgames.


Injuries to certain players can be harmful. The Red Sox are proof of that last season, as are the Blue Jays. The Yankees lost Mariano Rivera in May and still won 95 games.

As one Yankee scout pointed out to me, “It’s a long season. If you have to go .500 for a while until everyone thing comes together, that’s what you do. We’re not going to give our prospects for temporary solutions, so we’re going to go play the games and see what happens.”

Here’s the mailbag:

How would you assess the starting pitching performances thus far? Does it look like a bounce back year for them?
Jackson, Falls Church, Va.
So far it looks good. Lester and Buchholz have been very good. Lackey seems to be growing in comfort and confidence. Doubront appears to be over shoulder discomfort. Dempster is working on things but seems very professional.

Of the players traded to the Dodgers last year, what is your prediction on the kind of season they may have in the NL in 2013 ?
Bruce, Cheshire, Conn.
Adrian Gonzalez will be what he usually is – a top hitter in the league anywhere from .300-330, 25 homers or so and 100 RBI. Beckett will benefit from weaker lineups. A 6-inning pitcher. 12-15 wins. Crawford, who knows? Injuries will be a factor. I figure he’s got to be better than Boston, though he’ll feel the pressure in LA as well if he gets off to a poor start. High expectations there.


Say Ortiz is unable to get back for a while. Would the Sox have interest in trading for a guy like Morneau and moving Napoli to DH?
Jason, Salem, Ind.

Could be. But the Sox don’t think Ortiz’ issues are long term.

I don’t get the Red Sox’ continued affinity for Ryan Sweeney. How many seasons do they need to see that he has no upside?
Dave, Reno, Nev.
They like his defense and the fact he can play all three OF positions. Should hit for power, but doesn’t. I think he’s being challenged a bit by Mitch Maier, who has more pop.

Click the Full Entry button for more Q&A.

I know Grapefruit League stats really don’t mean a whole lot, but is there someplace I can check them out each day just to get a rough idea of who’s doing what? For example, you said in your Sunday Notes that Iglesias is hitting this spring – what are his stats, and are there any other stats, good or bad, besides Bradley’s that jump out at you?
Mike, Hendersonville, Tenn.
Iglesias’ stats aren’t great (.214), but he’s made solid contact for the most part and shown more aggressive nature at the plate. If we’re going by stats in spring training we’re all getting a little goofy. It’s all about quality at-bats, comfort and approach in spring training. Saltalamacchia, for instance, looks good at the plate.
I’ve never been much for mortgaging the farm for one player but it seems like Giancarlo Stanton would be worth it. Do you know if the Sox seriously considered this? It seems like a deal similar to what was offered for King Felix would have gotten it done.
Seth, San Diego
Oh, I think they would consider it and are considering it. Once the Marlins decide they’re going to deal him, there’s be plenty of teams lined up and Boston will be one of them. Yes, I would give up just about anything for him. He’s a special talent.
Not hearing too much about our new hitting coach. What are the initial impressions on Greg Colbrunn and how are the players responding to him? He was an interesting choice given his limited coaching experience and certainly has big shoes to fill.
Hugh, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Seems to be receiving high marks. Well thought of in the Yankees organization. Every one I run into who has either had him as a player or coach raves about him. His assistant, Victor Rodriguez, is also well thought of. Sox seem to be in good shape there.
Jackie Bradley is hitting .500 this spring. He will almost certainly start the year in Pawtucket and almost certainly be in the Red Sox starting lineup by the 4th of July. Do you think the Sox owners might then want to talk to Ben Cherington on exactly why he locked up the immortal Shane Victorino for three years and $39M?
Bob, Thousand Oaks, Calif.
No. The owners signed off on it.
It looks like the last couple of years the pitching depth was one of the reasons of the team struggled. Management has done a great job supplying pitching depth to the team. But what about the position depth? That looks like an area of concern, especially now that Ortiz won’t be ready for opening day.
Gabriel, Naples, Fla.
Well, you have Mike Carp, Lyle Overbay, Daniel Nava, Mauro Gomez, and Ryan Lavarnway to possibly move into a DH role if Ortiz is down for a month or so. There’s a lot of catching depth with Salty, Ross, Lavarnway, Butler, and Vazquez. Ciriaco can play middle infield. Jackie Bradley isn’t far off. So I think they have decent depth.
How much of Napoli’s contract salary re-structuring affected his camp participation? We understand the medical concerns, but couldn’t all the underwater running and subsequent tests have been done before he reported to spring training? Not to trying to sound like a conspiracy theory, but he says he’s fine and all tests prove he’s fine and he’ll still be ready by opening day. Just wondering if it was more PR than MD.
Jesse, Berkeley, Calif.
Don’t buy that. No reason for PR over MD. They wanted to go slow with him and do an extra MRI while was in camp to make sure there was no change in the hip deterioration. He’s fine.
Do you think the Sox would consider moving Drew to left field? He hits righthanders better than any other current option for a left field platoon with Gomes. It also has the added benefit of allowing Iggy his chance to play shortstop in the majors.
Joe, Syracuse, NY
I’ve never heard such a thing mentioned.
Do you think they’ll re-sign Pedroia in the near future? The little guy is the face of the organization and I think we’d all love to see him remain in a Red Sox uniform for as long as possible. Then again, management is learning, due to the Ortiz Debacle, that giving special treatment to aging players can be unwise.
Claudia, Sarasota, Fla.
He’s under their control through 2015 (club option in 2015). Not sure what the rush is. I think once we know how much Robinson Cano will sign for, then Pedroia may be in better position to come up with an extension.
You wrote about Stephen Drew to the Cardinals due to the Furcal injury. What type of return would he bring?
Al, Wareham, Mass.
Sox would probably want a prospect, but now with his concussion issues, not sure that’s a viable situation.
Any insight into how John Farrell comes up with his spring training lineups? Some seemingly odd combinations, including Ryan Sweeney in the three-hole above guys like Will Middlebrooks and Jonny Gomes. Just curious.
Matt, Brookline, Mass.
It’s all about getting at-bats and facing the best possible pitching. Really doesn’t matter where they hit in the lineup in spring training. Sometimes you want to see if a guy changes his approach in a certain spot in the order. The Red Sox would love to see Sweeney hit for power, so by putting him third, maybe he tries to go deep.
I keep hearing that Ellsbury is gone after this year because Bradley is almost ready. I don’t understand this. He has proven to be one of the rare athletes that can tune out the noise and perform in Boston, unlike Crawford who blames the media for his poor performance. Would it be conceivable that Bradley could play left? With a left fielder, shortstop, and third basement that they really don’t have to pay, can’t they afford an elite player in center?
Scott, Harrisburg, Penn.
Sure, Bradley could play left if Ellsbury stays. I’m not completely convinced Ellsbury is gone. It all depends on what kind of year he has. If he’s hurt and underperforming again, sure he’s gone and I’m not sure the Red Sox would make much of an offer. But if he’s the two years ago Ellsbury, the Red Sox might dive in. Everyone thinks Ellsbury wants to play in a quieter market, but he’s very comfortable in Boston. He really loves playing here.
I’ve asked this before and never received an answer. When will the Globe pull an almost two-year-old article “Inside the Red Sox Collapse” from the front page of the Sox portion of its web pages?
Peter, Milwaukee, Wisc.
It was an award-winning story that people are still interested in reading. I suppose as long as the interest is there, it remains.
Until he broke his foot, watching Dustin Pedroia play second base was one of the joys I experienced in watching the Red Sox. Last year I didn’t see him make the brilliant plays I thought I remembered. Is it your impression he has slowed down? And how long does a player remain brilliant in the field before age takes a significant toll?
Chris, Wassenaar, The Netherlands
I would have to disagree. I thought he was brilliant defensively last season. I thought his range was great and he made a few out-of-body type stops.
Do you think Ortiz may have mislead the club in taking $26 million? Probably because he felt he was under paid in the past? I do.
Dennis, Worcester, Mass.
Don’t think you can get hoodwinked when you’re dishing out $26 mill. They knew what they were doing. They had access to the medicals. Like I said, they don’t believe Ortiz will suffer any long-term issues.

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