Ask Nick: Should Red Sox trade Jon Lester?

Despite being in first place in the AL East, there’s concern about the Red Sox among mailbag readers.

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They wonder:

1. Should the Red Sox trade Jon Lester?

2. Is Will Middlebrooks ready to come back up and take his place at third?

3. Why are the Red Sox getting injured so much? More concerns about the medical staff?

4. Is Mike Napoli bringing the offense down?

5. Should the team trade Stephen Drew?

The Red Sox are definitely in a state of need at the moment. Their bullpen is falling apart with a key season-ending injury to Andrew Miller and there is now a need for Ben Cherington to make a deal for a reliever. Cherington may have to give up something he doesn’t want to give up to make a deal for someone like lefty Matt Thornton of the White Sox or Steve Cishek of the Miami Marlins or even a stop-gap like Kevin Gregg with the Cubs. Someone will likely have to be added soon.


The Red Sox are also keeping their interest alive in Michael Young as they also feel the need for a consistent righthanded hitter.

It appears that a deal or two will be in Boston’s future.

Here’s the mailbag:

Should the Red Sox part ways with Jon Lester while he still has some value?
Mark, Cambridge

Only if it’s part of a package where you’re getting a comparable pitcher back. Not sure that type of deal exists. There would be no shortage of teams lined up for him. Lester is very popular among scouts of other teams.

It’s a new year but it seems like the medical issues from the past few years are still around. Fans were told Clay Buchholz was only supposed to miss a start and he hasn’t pitched in a month. Drew was day to day with a hamstring and ends up on the DL. David Ross comes back from the concussion DL and has to go right back on. And now Jacoby Ellsbury jammed his wrist and is day to day. Would not be surprised if he ends up on the DL. I thought the front office changed the medical team this past offseason. Seems the same to me.
Chris, Brighton
Medical teams always get too much blame for players being injured and then taking too long to come back. It’s out of their hands. The “old” medical team was terrific in my eyes. It was headed by Dr. Thomas Gill, who is currently the Patriots team physician and had both roles for a long time. The problem has been the injuries have been tweeners. Maybe the Red Sox should have been more decisive in just putting the player on the DL, but they hoped in the case of Drew, Victorino, and Buchholz that the injuries were minor enough to hold off. Cherington addressed this the other day. He said he acknowledges that the team has had these types of injuries, but that he doesn’t believe he would have handled it any differently.


The Sox have a glaring hole at third and need a middle of the order hitter to protect Ortiz and stop the intentional walks. The Mets are tanking again and I think David Wright would be a perfect fit for this team. He hates hitting at Citi Field and he is still young enough to justify trading two great prospects for him. Any chance the Sox are interested and can pry him away from the Mets?
Steve, Branford, Conn.
David Wright is the face of their team so I wouldn’t hold my breath. The Red Sox have good options at third base in the future. While they may seek a stop-gap like Michael Young, they have Will Middlebrooks, Xander Bogaerts, and Garin Cecchini who can play third and all have promise as hitters. Don’t think Citi Field is an issue with him anymore. He signed a big contract to play there, so it can’t be that bad.

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Were the Red Sox in the hunt to sign Yasiel Puig when he was available?
Chris, South Boston
Yes. They didn’t want to get into the $40 million range with him so they dropped out.
What will it take before the Sox realize that Mike Napoli is more liability than asset? I went to the final game in Anaheim and saw up close and personal the body language and how the other infielders react to Napoli as he throws them grounders between innings. He is practically lifeless and was actually ignored. I think he’s basically collecting a paycheck and going through the motions. People talk about Papi getting lots of free passes because he’s so dangerous. He’s getting free passes because the opposition sees Napoli for what he is: A strikeout waiting to happen. Do the Red Sox/Farrell not see this?
Dana, Los Angeles
I hope you’re not basing your opinion of Napoli after seeing him one game in person. Teammates really like him. He’s having a tough stretch right now and they need him to pick it up and perform as he did early in the season. He’s certainly not just going through the motions as you say. The opposition may see him as a strikeout waiting to happen, but they should also see him as a player who has 56 RBI. He’s been up and down. The strikeouts drive everyone crazy, including himself, but don’t ignore his potential to drive in runs. In that area, the statistics show he’s done the job.
There seems to be a lot of discrepancies between what the umpires are calling this year compared to what the Amica pitch zone indicates (on television). Is it the umpires or the Amica pitch zone?
Charlie, Lincoln, Del.
Great question. An umpire supervisor (the ones who evaluate umpires on a daily basis) told me the Amica pitch zone is not accurate and that fans get too hung up on it. He said the Amica box doesn’t give an accurate read of a ball or strike as the ball passes through the zone.
I have not heard much about Daniel Bard lately. What is the latest with him? Will he ever pitch in the majors again?
Tony, Jupiter, Fla.
Getting ready to pitch again in Fort Myers, Fla., after healing from an abdominal strain.
Do you think the Red Sox will move third baseman Garin Cecchini to left or right field? His presence at the plate reminds me of Joe Mauer. For a young guy, he has excellent command of the strike zone and he just hits the ball hard to all fields. I think it would be a big mistake to move him.
Marc, Heathsville, Va.
I haven’t heard about a positional change for him yet, but that could happen. They have some third base depth, so Xander Bogaerts could wind up at third as well. They love his bat, so they want to make sure he plays somewhere and is a part of the Red Sox’ future.
After wondering what former Red Sox Dirt Dog Trot Nixon was up to these days, I took a look at his Wikipedia page, and he is apparently the host of a local cable show in Wilmington, NC, doing football highlights. Have the Sox tried reaching out to him to bring him back into the organization at all? I just feel like he’d be especially good at mentoring young up-and-coming players about how to play the game “the right way.”
Brian, Waltham
Just raising his family in North Carolina. See him up at Fenway now and then. Haven’t heard about him coming to be a special instructor at spring training or anything like that. I don’t think he wants that life right now.
Should the Red Sox trade Drew and bring Middlebrooks back up? I say yes.
Steve, Albuquerque, NM
Drew needs to show he can stay healthy before anyone deals for him. So the answer is no for now.
Seems like pitchers are catching on that Ortiz is the only power threat (with Middlebrooks at AAA) in the lineup, and have walked him a ton. I know the Sox are looking for a third baseman, but Michael Young would be yet another powerless player. What are your thoughts on trading for Aramis Ramirez, Trevor Plouffe, or even Chase Headley?
Ryan, Sharon
As I wrote earlier, the Red Sox’ future third base situation is very encouraging so they don’t need any permanent third base solution. If they can pick up Young, that would be ideal for them. Ramirez makes $16 million next year. Headley isn’t having a good year and you’d have to give up a lot to acquire him and then have to worry about signing him when he becomes a free agent after 2014. Again, you have players who are probably going to be better than Headley in Bogaerts and Middlebrooks.
With Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, Matt Barnes, Henry Owens, Anthony Ranaudo, and Brandon Workman, the Red Sox seem to have six pitchers who all have at least No. 3 starter potential who should be ready in the next 1-2 years. I know there’s no such thing as too much pitching, but with Doubront, Buchholz, and Lackey all under control for several more years, there’s definitely not room for all of them in the rotation. How do you think they’ll handle giving all of these guys their shot, and which of those prospects have the best chance of sticking around in Boston long-term?
JD, Connecticut
Those six guys haven’t proven a lick yet so it’s tough to project that far ahead. If they’re good, they’ll push guys out and they’ll either let pitchers like Lester and Buchholz go as free agents or deal them, but we’re jumping the gun a tad. Of those six, how many will actually be good major league pitchers? I’m gonna guess three or four of them and that’s being generous.
Middlebrooks is tearing it up in the minors and it’s decision time. Is it time to try and move Drew?
Jeff, Fairfield Maine
I don’t think it’s decision time on Middlebrooks. They want to keep him down there for a while. The team likes Drew quite a bit, so I’m not sure they’re in a hurry to move him. By end of this month they may start to formulate some thoughts about this. But they can always trade Drew in August .
The Red Sox need bullpen help and Brian Wilson remains unsigned. Would he even be ready to pitch this year and would the Red Sox take a chance on him?
Mike, McAdoo, Pa.
There’s been very little word on whether he’s ready to pitch yet. If he were, I’m sure the Red Sox would have some interest, but he would need build-up and rehab starts, so he’s not an immediate answer for them.
Why don’t the Red Sox move Jose Iglesias up in the batting order to the lead off or No. 2 slot?
Al, Commack, NY
They don’t want to put too much pressure on him. They like that “second” leadoff man at the bottom of the order. It’s good thinking and it’s worked out fine. He’s flourished. Why change that?

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