Red Sox Mailbag: Andrew Miller Has Chance to Remain in Rotation When Clay Buchholz Returns, But May Be More Valuable in Bullpen

Red Sox Mailbag: Andrew Miller Has Chance to Remain in Rotation When Clay Buchholz Returns, But May Be More Valuable in Bullpen As the Red Sox try to recover from a marathon loss to Kansas City, they keep an eye on the always-shifting trade market in anticipation of this Sunday's non-waiver trade deadline.

Based on many of the submissions to the Red Sox Mailbag this week, fans certainly are interested in the rumors on that front. However, we had several relating to other matters. Without further ado, let's dive in and pick the best of the bunch.

How is Kevin Millwood doing in Pawtucket? Could he be a viable option down the stretch if Clay Buchholz doesn't come back? Wouldn't he be a better option than wiping out the farm system for a guy who is a fourth starter, at best, on our team?
–Todd Foye

Millwood can definitely be an option to pick up some starts here and there, especially if Clay Buchholz is unable to give the team much down the stretch. I'm not so sure there aren't better options on the market to fill that hypothetical hole, though. As you mentioned, they might cost prospects, but not enough to wipe out the farm system.

The 36-year-old Millwood is 5-0 with a 4.06 ERA at Triple-A Pawtucket. He isn't always dominating, but he has gone seven innings or more on several occasions, and has had some nice outings along the way. Certainly on the radar if the club has to dig deeper.

What's the Red Sox' love affair with Tim Wakefield about? When Clay Buchholz comes back, shouldn't Andrew Miller be the fifth starter? Granted, Wakefield can be solid and has done a lot for the franchise, but if the offense struggles for one day, it's basically a loss because Wakefield gives up a lot of runs and has trouble stopping the bleeding.
–Matt Cote

You answered your question, in part. He has done a lot for the franchise in his 17 years here, and deserves praise for his many accomplishments. As for what he provides at the current time, Wakefield can be hit or miss, but that's nothing new. It's simply the nature of the knuckleball. The Red Sox do not need him to win any ERA crowns, but the fact that he has stepped in and made 13 starts, winning six of them, has been incredibly valuable to a team that's seen 80 percent of its rotation hit the disabled list at one time or another.

With the emergence of Josh Reddick and Ryan Kalish waiting, it looks like right field should be OK. Don't you think the Red Sox should concentrate on a starter for the stretch run, just in case Buchholz has more issues then he realizes?
–Bob Worton

Yes, even with J.D. Drew sidelined. The organizational depth in the outfield has taken a hit this year with the decline of Drew, injuries to Kalish and Juan Carlos Linares and the trade of Mike Cameron, but the situation is not so dire that it requires anything rash. Reddick will come down to Earth at some point, but he's proving that he can be an everyday player. Even if he levels off to a degree, it's not going to completely destroy this offense. Also, don't discount the value of having a rested and recovered veteran like Drew to spell Reddick from time to time down the stretch.

As for starting pitching, so much of it hangs on the recovery of Buchholz. If he has another setback, the club will most certainly want to obtain some more depth, possibly with a waiver-wire move.

What has happened to Jed Lowrie? Is this guy sturdy enough to play a full season? All the talent in the world is really no good if you're soft. Agree?
–Scott

Well, I do agree with your statement about talent and softness, but I'm not so sure it applies to Lowrie. He's had his physical issues, but without pulling a Martin Short in Innerspace, I cannot tell exactly if any of them are related to his perceived softness.

Lowrie is a well-conditioned athlete who works hard, knows the game and can be a very valuable asset going forward. He has resumed swinging a bat and could be on a rehab assignment by the second week of August if all goes well.

Are the Red Sox really in the race for Carlos Beltran? Are they willing to give up talent to get him?
–Adam Phelps

The Red Sox will stay in the Beltran sweepstakes until the end, just to do their due diligence. I'm not so sure they want to give up too much for a rental at a position that is finally getting some production. Beltran could help, but it's no given that he would make an earth-shattering difference for this team. If the price of prospects is not too much, it could still happen, but Beltran has a say in that as well. He has indicated he may not want to be traded to an American League team.

If you're hoping for Beltran to be in a Red Sox uniform by the end of the week, do not hold your breath. Saying that, many crazier things have happened.

Hi Tony. I felt that Drew Sutton did pretty well as a utility infielder in his stint with the Red Sox. Why was Yamaico Navarro chosen over him when a roster move needed to made? Thanks!
–Yael

A question all the way from Israel. Much appreciated, Yael.

Navarro is someone of whom the organization thinks highly, and he had the ability at the time to help out a little more in some positions of need, although both can play multiple positions. Sutton is due back when Drew is placed on the disabled list Tuesday, so fans of both guys can be happy.

Hey man, what’s the deal with the Red Sox shortstop position for the remainder of this season, and what are their plans for after this season?
–Skippy

Hey Skippy, love your work in the peanut butter aisle. Solid question, too.

The presumption entering this season was that the much-heralded prospect Jose Iglesias would be the starter in 2012. That's not a guarantee, however.

Iglesias just returned from a concussion that robbed him of nearly three weeks. Not that he needs to light the world on fire at the plate, but his slash line of .237/.281/.257 at Pawtucket indicates he may need a few more at-bats in the minors before becoming a full-time major leaguer. Iglesias' glove is not an issue.

Marco Scutaro has a $3 million player option. He could choose to stay, or take a $1.5 million buyout and hit free agency. If he stays, maybe he backs up Iglesias and serves as his mentor in a way. Jed Lowrie will be entering the first of his three arbitration-eligible seasons, so he's under team control for some time.

Keep an eye on Iglesias' progress in the second half of the season. That should have plenty of influence in the organization's stance on the position for 2012.

Adrian Gonzalez has certainly delivered offensively, even better than expected, but defensively he just doesn't seem to be the Gold Glover he was reputed to be. Is the shoulder still bothering him? What are your thoughts on his defense? While he doesn't commit errors he also doesn't make the outstanding plays.
–Buffalohead

Well, Buffalohead, I've seen Gonzalez make some pretty special plays this season. He has wonderful hands and is one of the better throwing first basemen in the game — few can turn the 3-6-3 double play quite like Gonzalez.

Both traditional and sabermetric statistics rank Gonzalez as one of the finest at his position, and the naked eye, at least mine, has seen the same thing. Aren't we nitpicking here?

Do you think Andrew Miller will remain in the starting rotation once Lester and Buchholz come back healthy? Will he stay in the starting rotation or fill in as a reliever? I think he's earned a position in the starting rotation, but tell me what you think.
–John

I think Miller has the opportunity to remain in the rotation, but it's up to him. If he can provide some solid outings before Buchholz comes back, he'll probably remain that No. 5 guy. The next couple of weeks are the continuation of his audition. Then again, the bullpen is a bit lean in terms of left-handed arms (currently Franklin Morales and Randy Williams are the choices), so Miller remains an option on that end. His recent high walk totals might hurt his value out of the pen. So much of this depends upon whether the team makes a move for another starter at the deadline.

Is there any chance that the Red Sox make a play for Felix Hernandez, or is that just wishful thinking?
–Keenen

I believe that's wishful thinking. Just yesterday in New York, Hernandez himself said in no uncertain terms that there was no chance he would be traded. He seems committed to Seattle's future, and the Mariners are committed to him.

Do you think the Red Sox try to make a trade for Huston Street of the Rockies? He'd help our bullpen down the stretch, especially with Bobby Jenks' health in question.
–Alex

With the Rockies fading out of contention, Street will be dangled and would be a nice addition to Boston's pen. But there are two items which suggest it may not happen. For one, the Red Sox bullpen has been phenomenal of late. Any additions there will not be splashy efforts for a major upgrade, but rather complementary moves, such as bringing in another left-handed option.

Also, Street is being paid $7.3 million this year and $7.5 million next year. Unless Boston sees that as a good investment if and when Jonathan Papelbon walks (Street could either close or serve as a setup option for Daniel Bard), I don't see the organization making such a play, especially with Jenks under contract for $6 million in 2012.

Do you think the Red Sox will need a veteran third catcher just in case of an injury? Someone they could keep at Pawtucket and use in September? If they pinch run for one catcher, the other catcher is the only one on the 25-man roster.
–Tom

That's not out of the ordinary. Most teams carry just two catchers, for a third would take up a valuable spot for very limited duty. September will see the much-anticipated promotion of red-hot Ryan Lavarnway from Pawtucket, so you all have that to look forward to. He has been tearing up Triple-A pitching at an incredible rate and will provide a rest here and there for Jason Varitek and Jarrod Saltalamacchia down the stretch, especially if the Red Sox have anything locked up early.

Would the Red Sox be interested in Justin Upton of Arizona?
– Paul B.

Sure, anyone would, and Boston has been rumored to talk to the Diamondbacks about Upton in the past. But Arizona right in the thick of things in the NL West right now and not itching to move their best player.

As the Red Sox try to recover from a marathon loss to Kansas City, they keep an eye on the always shifting trade market in anticipation of this Sunday’s non-waiver trade deadline.

 

Based on many of the submissions to the Red Sox Mailbag this week, fans certainly are interested in the rumors on that front. However, we had several relating to other matters. Without further ado, let’s dive in and pick the best of the bunch.

 

1. How is Kevin Millwood doing in Pawtucket? Could he be a viable option down the stretch if Clay Buchholz doesn't come back? Wouldn't he be a better option than wiping out the farm system for a guy who is a fourth starter, at best, on our team?

– Todd Foye

 

Millwood can definitely be an option to pick up some starts here and there, especially if Buchholz is unable to give the team much down the stretch. I’m not so sure there aren’t better options on the market to fill that hypothetical hole, though. As you mentioned, they might cost prospects, but not enough to wipe out the farm system.

 

The 36-year-old Millwood is 5-0 with a 4.06 ERA at Triple-A Pawtucket. He isn’t always dominating, but he has gone seven innings or more on several occasions, and has had some nice outings along the way. Certainly on the radar if the club has to dig deeper.

 

2. What's the Red Sox’ love affair with Tim Wakefield about? When Clay Buchholz comes back, shouldn't Andrew Miller be the fifth starter? Granted, Wakefield can be solid and has done a lot for the franchise, but if the offense struggles for one day, it’s basically a loss because Wakefield gives up a lot of runs and has trouble stopping the bleeding.

– Matt Cote

 

You answered your question, in part. He has done a lot for the franchise in his 17 years here, and deserves praise for his many accomplishments. As for what he provides at the current time, Wakefield can be hit or miss, but that’s nothing new. It’s simply the nature of the knuckleball. The Red Sox do not need him to win any ERA crowns, but the fact that he has stepped in and made 13 starts, winning six of them, has been incredibly valuable to a team that’s seen 80 percent of its rotation hit the disabled list at one time or another.

 

3. With the emergence of Josh Reddick and Ryan Kalish waiting, it looks like right field should be OK. Don’t you think the Red Sox should concentrate on a starter for the stretch run, just in case Buchholz has more issues then he realizes?

– Bob Worton

 

Yes, even with J.D. Drew sidelined. The organizational depth in the outfield has taken a hit this year with the decline of Drew, injuries to Kalish and Juan Carlos Linares and the trade of Mike Cameron, but the situation is not so dire that it requires anything rash. Reddick will come down to Earth at some point, but he’s proving that he can be an everyday player. Even if he levels off to a degree, it’s not going to completely destroy this offense. Also, don’t discount the value of having a rested and recovered veteran like Drew to spell Reddick from time to time down the stretch.

 

As for starting pitching, so much of it hangs on the recovery of Buchholz. If he has another setback, the club will most certainly want to obtain some more depth, possibly with a waiver-wire move.

 

4. What has happened to Jed Lowrie? Is this guy sturdy enough to play a full season? All the talent in the world is really no good if you're soft. Agree?

– Scott

 

Well, I do agree with your statement about talent and softness, but I’m not so sure it applies to Lowrie. He’s had his physical issues, but without pulling a Martin Short in “Innerspace” (http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi4136698137/), I cannot tell exactly if any of them are related to his perceived softness.

 

Lowrie is a well-conditioned athlete who works hard, knows the game and can be a very valuable asset going forward. He has resumed swinging a bat and could be on a rehab assignment by the second week of August if all goes well.

 

5. Are the Red Sox really in the race for Carlos Beltran? Are they willing to give up talent to get him?

– Adam Phelps

 

The Red Sox will stay in the Beltran sweepstakes until the end, just to do their due diligence. I’m not so sure they want to give up too much for a rental at a position that is finally getting some production. Beltran could help, but it’s no given that he would make an earth-shattering difference for this team. If the price of prospects is not too much, it could still happen, but Beltran has a say in that as well. He has indicated he may not want to be traded to an American League team.

 

If you’re hoping for Beltran to be in a Red Sox uniform by the end of the week, do not hold your breath. Saying that, many crazier things have happened.

 

6. Hi Tony. I felt that Drew Sutton did pretty well as a utility infielder in his stint with the Red Sox. Why was Yamaico Navarro chosen over him when a roster move needed to made? Thanks!

– Yael

 

A question all the way from Israel. Much appreciated, Yael.

 

Navarro is someone of whom the organization thinks highly, and he had the ability at the time to help out a little more in some positions of need, although both can play multiple positions. Sutton is due back when Drew is placed on the disabled list Tuesday, so fans of both guys can be happy.

 

7. Hey man, what’s the deal with the Red Sox shortstop position for the remainder of this season, and what are their plans for after this season?

– Skippy

 

Hey Skippy, love your work in the peanut butter aisle. Solid question, too.

 

The presumption entering this season was that the much-heralded prospect Jose Iglesias would be the starter in 2012. That’s not a guarantee, however.

 

Iglesias just returned from a concussion that robbed him of nearly three weeks. Not that he needs to light the world on fire at the plate, but his slash line of .237/.281/.257 at Pawtucket indicates he may need a few more at-bats in the minors before becoming a full-time major leaguer. Iglesias’ glove is not an issue.

 

Marco Scutaro has a $3 million player option. He could choose to stay, or take a $1.5 million buyout and hit free agency. If he stays, maybe he backs up Iglesias and serves as his mentor in a way. Jed Lowrie will be entering the first of his three arbitration-eligible seasons, so he’s under team control for some time.

 

Keep an eye on Iglesias’ progress in the second half of the season. That should have plenty of influence in the organization’s stance on the position for 2012.

 

8. Adrian Gonzalez has certainly delivered offensively, even better than expected, but defensively he just doesn’t seem to be the Gold Glover he was reputed to be. Is the shoulder still bothering him? What are your thoughts on his defense? While he doesn’t commit errors he also doesn’t make the outstanding plays.

– Buffalohead

 

Well, Buffalohead, I’ve seen Gonzalez make some pretty special plays this season. He has wonderful hands and is one of the better throwing first basemen in the game — few can turn the 3-6-3 double play quite like Gonzalez.

 

Both traditional and sabermetric statistics rank Gonzalez as one of the finest at his position, and the naked eye, at least mine, has seen the same thing. Aren’t we nitpicking here?

 

9. Do you think Andrew Miller will remain in the starting rotation once Lester and Buchholz come back healthy? Will he stay in the starting rotation or fill in as a reliever? I think he's earned a position in the starting rotation, but tell me what you think.

– John

 

I think Miller has the opportunity to remain in the rotation, but it’s up to him. If he can provide some solid outings before Buchholz comes back, he’ll probably remain that No. 5 guy. The next couple of weeks are the continuation of his audition. Then again, the bullpen is a bit lean in terms of left-handed arms (currently Franklin Morales and Randy Williams are the choices), so Miller remains an option on that end. His recent high walk totals might hurt his value out of the pen. So much of this depends upon whether the team makes a move for another starter at the deadline.

 

10. Is there any chance that the Red Sox make a play for Felix Hernandez, or is that just wishful thinking?

– Keenen

 

I believe that’s wishful thinking. Just yesterday in New York, Hernandez himself said in no uncertain terms that there was no chance he would be traded. He seems committed to Seattle’s future, and the Mariners are committed to him.

 

11. Do you think the Red Sox try to make a trade for Huston Street of the Rockies? He’d help our bullpen down the stretch, especially with Bobby Jenks' health in question.

– Alex

 

With the Rockies fading out of contention, Street will be dangled and would be a nice addition to Boston’s pen. There are two items which suggest it may not happen. For one, the Red Sox bullpen has been phenomenal of late. Any additions there will not be splashy efforts for a major upgrade, but rather complementary moves, such as bringing in another left-handed option.

 

Also, Street is being paid $7.3 million this year and $7.5 million next year. Unless Boston sees that as a good investment if and when Jonathan Papelbon walks (Street could either close or serve as a setup option for Daniel Bard), I don’t see the organization making such a play, especially with Jenks under contract for $6 million in 2012.

 

12. Do you think the Red Sox will need a veteran third catcher just in case of an injury? Someone they could keep at Pawtucket and use in September? If they pinch run for one catcher, the other catcher is the only one on the 25-man roster?

– Tom

 

That’s not out of the ordinary. Most teams carry just two catchers, for a third would take up a valuable spot for very limited duty. September will see the much-anticipated promotion of red-hot Ryan Lavarnway from Pawtucket, so you all have that to look forward to. He has been tearing up Triple-A pitching at an incredible rate and will provide a rest here and there for Jason Varitek and Jarrod Saltalamacchia down the stretch, especially if the Red Sox have anything locked up early.

 

13. Would the Red Sox be interested in Justin Upton of Arizona?

– Paul B.

 

Sure, anyone would, and Boston has been rumored to talk to the Diamondbacks about Upton in the past. But Arizona right in the thick of things in the NL West right now and not itching to move their best player.

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