The Red Sox are currently in the basement of the American League East. After the first month of the season, they don't have the luxury of pointing to last year's remarkable turnaround, considering they were 18-20 at this point in 2011.
The starting pitching is seemingly in disarray and could receive a boost when Daisuke Matsuzaka returns. In the meantime, let's take a look at the mailbag, where many readers are looking for answers.
Will the Sox end up shipping [Josh] Beckett out of Boston if they continue to struggle?
-John Little, Skowhegan
It could be an option, but it'll be a tough task, considering Josh Beckett is entitled to "10-and-5 rights". As a veteran who has at least 10 years of MLB service and five years with his current club, Beckett is authorized to veto any potential trade.
He achieved that "10-and-5" status last August, when it marked his fifth year as part of the Red Sox organization. Still, even after this season, the Red Sox owe Beckett a significant amount of cash, which could shorten the suitors' list.
Before Thursday's start, I wouldn't have pictured trading him as an option. But after his mediocre start to the year and the PR headaches he's given the team –– his defiant response to his golf outing, most recently –– both may need to contemplate a fresh start.
But I think both parties will attempt to right the ship before those measures are taken.
Do you think Bobby V suspended Josh last week and that is why he missed Saturday's start?
-Scott J, Boston
No, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine didn't suspend Beckett last week. In fact, I think Valentine overly protected Beckett after the golf outing incident, refusing to offer his in-depth thoughts until Beckett made his statements.
From my perspective, I truly think the Red Sox were trying to get a good look at Aaron Cook as a starter last Saturday. Since Beckett was a little more sore than usual, I think the Red Sox capitalized by giving Beckett the start off and inserting Cook in his place.
If Cook wasn't a factor at that time, I believe Beckett would have made his scheduled start and fought through any lingering soreness. But the Red Sox needed to analyze Cook, which in my opinion, may have led to the decision.
Even though Middlebrooks is bound to cool down at some point, should the Sox keep him the rest of the year and trade Youk? I know his injuries make him harder to trade but it shouldn't be hard to find a suitor. Agree?
By all accounts, the Red Sox plan to start Kevin Youkilis at third base once he's healthy from his stiff back. General manager Ben Cherington confirmed as much, while Valentine backtracked from his stance on testing Will Middlebrooks in the outfield.
If Middlebrooks continues his tear at the major league level, I envision that it would be difficult to send him down. For a 23-year-old, he's already very mature and seasoned as a player. He's talented, no doubt about it.
To Youkilis' credit, he was starting to find his stride before being placed on the disabled list. But here's the fact of the matter: Middlebrooks has amassed more RBIs and extra-base hits than Youkilis in fewer games.
That said, Youkilis still has gas left in the tank, so either way, I think it's a good problem for the Red Sox to have.
Do you see the Red Sox trading Clay this season and for who?
-@VMonteForte, via Twitter
I don't see that happening. Although Clay Buchholz has been far from impressive this season –– he owns the highest ERA and WHIP in the majors –– the Red Sox could possibly send him to Triple-A to figure out his issues.
When he's dialed in, he has shown the potential to be an effective contributor in the rotation. If injuries have continued to plague him –– he hasn't said anything publicly –– the Sox could also look into placing him on the disabled list.
Has Pedro Ciriaco been called up?
-@adamv2326, via Twitter
For those of you wondering why I'm answering this question, I tweeted that infielder Pedro Ciriaco was in the Red Sox' visitor's clubhouse following Wednesday's loss in Kansas City.
He was there just in case Will Middlebrooks wasn't healthy enough to play. The day before, the Red Sox third baseman was pulled from the game after battling hamstring cramps for the second time in a week.
If he wasn't ready to go on Wednesday, the Red Sox would have called up Ciriaco to have enough reinforcements in the infield. They ultimately didn’t have to go that route since Middlebrooks played without issue.