The Red Sox have faced questions about their up-and-down play all season, and now there are reports questioning the team's chemistry. A number of players have said that the clubhouse chemistry is great, though, which is a good sign for Red Sox Nation.
But there are still some other issues that need to be addressed in order for the Sox to climb the AL East ranks, including Kevin Youkilis' future. The trade deadline will also be here before you know it, and the Sox — like all other teams — will do their due diligence.
NESN's Don Orsillo addressed those topics and more in this edition of his mailbag.
Do you think the Red Sox are struggling because of injuries or Bobby Valentine's way of doing things?
— Erody Medina Jimenez
I think injuries outweigh all. You cannot have as many stars on the DL as the Red Sox do and expect to be much more than a .500 club. There is only so much a manager can do, and he is left to manage whoever is on his current roster. I think Valentine has done a pretty good job in juggling all that has happened, including the constant changes to his roster.
Valentine is not the issue at the moment. Getting everybody healthy is the key to the Sox turning things around. Remember, the second wild card comes into play this year, and it's still well within reach.
After seeing so many Red Sox teams, do you think this Sox team has what it takes to gel together to begin to win decisively? If not, what will it take, and what are they missing?
— Scott MacBain
I think it takes winning for a team to gel together and, generally, a team does not come together until they have been together a while. The Red Sox roster, due to injuries, has not been together one entire day yet this season. I think back to the championship years, and those teams seemed to take on their personalities in the second half of the season, and then carried them postseason. I think about the St. Louis Cardinals last year — a team that barely got into the postseason and then won it all. Gelling happens with winning, and when they start to roll, this team will come together.
Hi, Don. My husband and I enjoy listening to you each night on NESN. I was wondering what the status was on Jacoby Ellsbury. When will he be back?
I watched him hit a little on the field and run the bases on Tuesday. He is definitely back doing baseball activities, and the same can be said for Carl Crawford. There is no definitive time table that I am aware of for Ellsbury, though. Bobby Valentine has been very careful about not placing return dates on any players to avoid adding pressure. Also, I think when the player is ready for a rehab assignment, keep in mind that it's like spring training all over again for him. He'll likely need 40-50 at-bats in the minors. I'm not sure I can even guess on Jacoby Ellsbury yet.
Do you believe the Red Sox have to be active at the trade deadline this year?
— Chris Martin
No, I don't think so. Health for the previous mentioned players will be enough. I also think, as I have mentioned previously, that because there are now two wild cards to be had, teams will be less likely to trade their players in an effort to not upset their team and the fan base. As a result, waiver wire deals are more likely than action at the trade deadline.
Are we keeping Kevin Youkilis or trading him, and when do you see this happening?
–Timothy F. Boyd Sr.
If you believe what you read, he is available and there are scouts watching him. The Red Sox would have to eat a large portion of his salary. I could not have imagined this earlier this season, but it seems more likely now than ever. It's hard to imagine Youkilis, Adrian Gonzalez and Will Middlebrooks all in the lineup at the same time much longer. Something has to give.
I also think that with all the talk swirling, it is adversely affecting Youk's plate appearances. He is too good a hitter for the results he's currently having.