Ask Nick: Is Middlebrooks trade bait?

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Welcome to this week’s mailbag. Lots of questions about the trade deadline, Andrew Bailey’s future, and rumors about Michael Young and the Red Sox.

On Bailey, I point out in one of my answers that the Red Sox want to carve out a niche for him somewhere in the bullpen. They need him to fill a role, even if it’s not the closer role, just to take the pressure off some of the other relievers. So they’ll be patient. He does have minor league options left, so if it gets to the point where they feel he’s a lost cause, who knows, maybe they send him down.


Young is veteran righthanded presence. He’s good for any team because of his attitude and makeup. The Red Sox need another righthanded hitter. Not that it’s hurt them terribly, but there’s a void there without Will Middlebrooks in the middle of the order.

And it’s obvious, given the workload of some of the relievers, they’re going to need a veteran late-inning reliever soon and that’s one of the things the Red Sox have their scouts watching for right now. They have people watching the White Sox, Brewers, Twins, and Cubs. Of course, every other contender is looking for the same thing.

Right now it’s looking like Red Sox/Orioles. Remember the big three – health, pitching and in-season moves. We’ll see which of the two teams comes out on top in those areas.

Is Will Middlebrooks going to be used as trade bait?
Jackson, Falls Church, Va.
Love this question. Given the rise of Xander Bogaerts, he could very well be.

Do you see the Sox making a trade before the deadline to acquire pitching depth? Jake Peavy is a player I thought would be nice if the price was right, or perhaps Jesse Crain?
Jake, Sheridan, Wyo.
I would definitely look toward the White Sox for pitching help because of the familiarity Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves has with that pitching staff. Sure, if healthy, Peavy would be a nice addition. Crain is a very effective reliever who could solidify the back-end of the bullpen. I can see there being interest. But I think the Red Sox will look everywhere for another reliever, another starter and perhaps another righthanded bat who can play third (Michael Young).


Do you think that if Evan Gattis is fully healthy, the Red Sox will make a run at Brian McCann? Also, are there any other starting pitchers the Sox should target besides breaking the bank (and future) with Lee?
Ryan, Sharon
I don’t think the Red Sox will be in the market for a catcher. They seem happy with Jarrod Saltalamacchia and believe they need to get a good look at Lavarnway to determine his future here. I think the Red Sox will look into Matt Garza, Scott Feldman, Bud Norris, and Lee.

The Philly media is blowing up with “Red Sox desperate for Michael Young” chatter. Why? Jose Iglesias is proving he belongs, and are the Sox crazy enough to ship off a top prospect for an aging rental?
Jack, Washington, DC
It makes sense in that the Red Sox need a righthanded bat and protection at third. Stephen Drew has a long medical history, so Iglesias would fill at shortstop. If the team isn’t sold on Will Middlebrooks being able to get back and provide solid righthanded hitting, might as well try to add a proven veteran like Young. And it’s not “crazy.” If you have a chance to win with this team, go for it.

Click the full entry button for more Q&A.

Now that we’re past the halfway point of the season, I wonder if you would rate the offseason acquisitions?
Noah, Slovenia
Napoli – as advertised.
Gomes – Slow start. Has created energy and big hits and defensive plays.
Victorino – Injuries, but excellent energy, speed, great defense.
Dempster – As advertised. Innings, quality starts, good presence.
Hanrahan – Not so much.
Carp – Beyond expectations with the bat.
Ross – As advertised, but now hurt and gone for most of the season.
Drew – Good fielding, inconsistent at the plate.
Uehara – As advertised. Strike-thrower. Nasty stuff.
When I looked at Manny Machado’s stats in the minor leagues, they weren’t as good as Xander Bogaerts. Was it just scouting thinking he could be brought up at such a young age last year? When you look at the job he is doing this year, you wonder why not give Bogaerts a chance at 3B right now?
Frank, Middleboro
Bogaerts is a very good offensive talent, but he’s not the defensive player Machado is. And we need to stop looking into the stats as much as we do. That’s why you have scouts and evaluators to determine the quality of a player’s at-bats and whether he gets a hit or makes an out. Machado, for me, is a superior talent. I think the Red Sox probably have to make a determination soon where Bogaerts will play in the majors because he should be a very good hitter.
Andrew Bailey is no longer effective, yet manager John Farrell, even after removing Bailey from being the closer, still insists on inserting him in high-leverage situations that have inevitably led to blown saves, extra innings, and in a few cases, nail-biting victories. Why? Isn’t it time for Bailey to work out his issues in Pawtucket or Portland?
Spaceman37, Mill Valley, Calif.
Farrell’s point is for the bullpen to work, it has to be able to have Bailey be effective somewhere. They’re trying to get him going because if they don’t, it taxes the other guys in the pen and they’ll have to go out and acquire another reliever and give up more than they want. So, they’re trying to get him going. If that means he messes up, they’re willing to live with that if it means they can get him on the right track. That can be painful, and you can’t let it go too long, but I think you have to try.
When a player starts the season on the 25 man roster, such as Alfredo Aceves, and is sent to Triple A, does his salary remain the same as if he were on the 25 man roster?
Anthony, Narragansett, RI
If he’s a veteran with a guaranteed contract, yes. Alfredo is getting his major league money.
When are the Sox going to sit Napoli (or get rid of him) and give Carp a shot at being the regular first baseman?
Howard, Winter Haven, Fla.
Napoli is a streaky, hit-or-miss hitter. He’s exactly what the Red Sox thought he’d be. No, I think Napoli is your first baseman. He’ll drive in runs, hit a few homers and strike out a lot.
With the injury concerns, salary, and strikeout issues of Mike Napoli, would the Sox consider moving Middlebrooks to first in the offseason? Looks to me like they could gain more payroll flexibility and have your infield of the future.
Ski, Wesley Chapel, Fla.
I think a move to first would be under consideration for Middlebrooks. He took ground balls at first in Baltimore a couple of weeks back. It makes sense and I think it would be an easy transition for him.
Wouldn’t it be better to bring up pitchers Brandon Workman or Alex Wilson and try them out in the seventh innings than to keep trotting out Bailey, who’s so obviously struggling?
Dan, Kodiak, Alaska
Wilson is already up. I suppose at some point if Workman keeps pitching well he’ll be up here. But they won’t give up on Bailey yet.
On Friday night, two injured pitchers (Buchholz and Lester) were sitting on what doesn’t look like a very comfortable bench watching the game. Wouldn’t they be better off resting at home?
Josh, West Palm Beach, Fla.
At home, with a cup of tea, in a comfy recliner? Ah, I think they’re fine on the bench.
I’m not sure how starting pitchers fit into the Red Sox’s possible trade plans. I say unless they can somehow swing getting an elite guy like Cliff Lee or Felix Hernandez – very unlikely, I realize – I say stand pat. Second-tier vets like Matt Garza are tempting, but they can do just as well holding pat with guys like Aceves and Webster on standby, provided the former keeps his head on straight and the latter continues to gain confidence. What say you?
Mike, Hendersonville, Tenn.
It may very well be the way the Red Sox are thinking also. That’s why they’re auditioning Webster right now. If you can get a sure thing into your rotation, fine, but as you put it, “second-tier” type guys aren’t worth it. Unless, of course, there becomes a need through injury.
Ellsbury’s playing really well right now. Given that Jackie Bradley stopped hitting when the team left spring training, what are the odds of the Sox re-signing Ells?
Michael, Los Angeles
I’m on record as saying they should make every attempt to re-sign Ellsbury. He’s battle-tested in the AL East and he likes playing in this market. I always say when you have home-grown players in your market, re-sign them. Now, it’s not going to be for a Carl Crawford contract, and therein will likely be the issue. But I’m not sure he would get that anywhere else, either. I can see, Seattle, Toronto, Yankees, Mets, Phillies, and maybe the Rangers, making bids.
Bobby Valentine mentioned he roomed with Tony C. on the San Diego Padres. Is Bobby V. confused and it was actually with the Angels?
Paul, Marlborough
I believe it was in spring training, when both were trying to mount comebacks.
Can you provide the status of Ryan Kalish?
Dennis, Gretna, La.
He is rehabilitating his shoulder/neck issues. He won’t play this season. Hopes to make a comeback next season. It’s been a tough haul for him. If not for the injuries, I’m sure he would have been their regular left or rightfielder now.
How many at bats does it take for a player to be in the mix for league leaders? Jose Iglesias is hitting real well, but his average is not among the league leaders. Rookie of the year?
Tom, Asheville, NC
It has to be 502 plate appearances to qualify for a batting title. Not sure we need to worry about that. But rookie of the year? Yes, he’s still a rookie and will be in the award hunt.

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