Because of late-night Red Sox duties, this week’s Sunday Mail is abbreviated to your email and chat comments. But rain, snow, or a stunning hailstorm of offense against David Price, I’ll always deliver …
Time to lock up Aqib Talib with an extension?
Man, he’s fun to watch, isn’t he? Those four picks in four games tell only part of the story regarding how well he’s playing. He’s the Patriots’ best all-around cornerback since Ty Law, and that includes Asante Samuel. who went to the Deion Sanders “Prime Time” Night School of Contact Avoidance. But you know what? The status quo is just fine. He still needs to prove his reliability in a couple of ways. He must stay healthy — something he couldn’t do late last season, when he had hip and hamstring issues. And he needs to stay out of trouble. We all know about his issues with the Bucs and at Kansas. The Patriots, for obvious reasons, are particularly sensitive to off-the-field drama right now, and their tolerance for knuckleheads is going to be low for a long time. Let’s find out if Talib, who is an absolute riot, has matured. If so, and he keeps playing like this, there will be plenty of money for him after the confetti falls.
I have been thinking for some time that Bobby Valentine in 2012 was the best thing that could have happened to the Sox in 2013. The players embraced John Farrell as the non-Bobby V upon his arrival, and he did his part by treating them like adults and avoiding the self-defeating passive aggressive comments to the press like his predecessor. If Farrell immediately followed Terry Francona, I don’t think things would have played out quite so neatly. Thoughts?
— Bobby V.
I wish I’d thought to write about this before Alex Speier wrote his typically excellent piece on the subject for WEEI.com the other day. It’s absolutely true that The Lost Year of the Wrap Impresario significantly contributed to the shape of this year’s team. Think about it: If the Sox don’t stink in every way last year, the slate-cleaning blockbuster with the Dodgers never happens, and the likes of Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes, and Shane Victorino never end up in Boston. (Is there a less impressive player in baseball, taking salary and talent into consideration, than Carl Crawford at the moment?) As for the holdover core veterans — who to a man have had better (and yes, healthier) seasons than they did a year ago — they have to appreciate the professionalism like they never have before. Without Bobby V’s incompetence leading to the full meltdown, we never would have had the ultimate blessing of the season that followed. I’m not saying thank goodness for Bobby V., but it really did turn out to be worth it. Thanks, Lucchino!
What was up with your Richard Seymour column? Really not one of your best efforts. Doesn’t fit a need at all, especially combined with his age and the fact he hasn’t played in months.
Yeah, not my favorite piece I’ve ever written, either. Wrote in circles, intending to pay homage to Vince Wilfork and all he’s meant and instead veering out of control over to HAY BILL GO RECONCILE WITH BIG SEY! territory. Headline was somewhat misleading (and wrote it). I remember Bob Ryan saying something to the effect that as a columnist, you don’t have to hit a home run every time. There’s nothing wrong with a nice stand-up double once in a while. Good advice. It’s easy to ruin a good thing by overwriting. Unfortunately, my Wilfork/Seymour column wasn’t a double. It was a one-hopper back to the pitcher with the bases juiced. Know what’s really weird? It’s one of the top five most-read columns I’ve ever written. I don’t consider that a good thing.
Loved Pedro in the studio on TBS. Is he being groomed for a color commentary gig at all? You think he could end up working on NESN in the future or have you heard any rumblings?
— When Ellsbury Met Salty
He told me there was a possibility of him filling in at NESN late in the season, but it never worked out schedule-wise beyond his visit to the booth to join Don Orsillo and Derek Lowe when the Red Sox were in St. Petersburg facing the Rays. He’s going national if anything now, with the good reviews he’s getting for his work with TBS the postseason. He basically admitted to me that one of the reasons he was trying TV was because he was bored — he’s even taking up golf, for heaven’s sake. Here’s hoping he finds a fulfilling balance between his role with the Red Sox and whatever he ends up doing on TV beyond this postseason, because he has real value at both.
How soon is too early to wave the “I want Pedroia out and Mookie in” banner?
— Hoss (Austin)
[Checks Saturday’s night’s box score]
[Sees Pedroia’s line: double, sac fly, three RBIs, two crucial double plays started defensively.]
I’m gonna say 2027, tops, Hoss.
In all seriousness, Mookie Betts has become a very interesting prospect, and not just because he has one of those names that you don’t forget. He was the Red Sox’ minor league offensive player of the year this season after hitting .314 with 15 homers, 65 RBIs, 36 doubles and 38 steals between Greenville and Salem. He turns 21 Monday, is said to be good defensively at second with the potential to move back to shortstop, and perhaps most impressively, he has a very advanced approach, reaching base at a .417 clip between the two levels. We’ll know much more about his future prospects after we see what he does at Double A, the level where the prospects are most often separated from the suspects. But it looks promising to say the least. While there’s no reason to start searching for Pedroia’s successor now — he’s signed through 2021, for one thing — Betts looks like someone whose cool name we’ll be hearing more and more.