The agreement between the Red Sox and closer Jonathan Papelbon was certainly good news for Red Sox Nation, but questions remain about his future in Boston. While we don't know that, we do know that spring training gets closer and closer by the minute, and that's nothing but good news.
Why do you think the Red Sox have not extended Jonathan Papelbon beyond a year to year arbitration situation?
–Pat, South Boston, Mass.
Well I think a lot of that has to with Jonathan. I am not sure that they have not tried or headed down that road. It makes sense that in years past that they probably visited that thought. However, I know he has made no secret that he wants to pave the way for how a closer should be compensated — especially the likes of himself.
I think this was one of the things that when he decided that he was going to be a the closer and not a starter, at some point he wanted to be paid like a starter. I also think he is not afraid to leave when he becomes a free agent. His allegiance is really not issue. He will get paid top dollar by somebody.
What do you make of Daisuke Matsuzaka?s admission that he was injured and did not share that information with the Sox?
–Sam, Burlington, Vt.
Surprising, but it sort of explains some things. I was surprised because he went through so much public give and take with the Red Sox during his lengthy rehab in Fort Myers. They seemed to have cleared the air on many fronts on many occasions. At that point, you figured he may have come clean as to why he was so ineffective and what was truly ailing him. He did not for whatever reason, and in the end probably has irked them further. I imagine they (the Red Sox) never could have guessed how trying of a process this would be.
What is the offseason like for an announcer?
–Nick, Brighton, Mass.
Well we sort of catch up on what you put off for the eight months that we are working every day. Everything from doctor?s appointments to visiting family and getting ready for the next eight-month run. We head to Fort Myers at the end of February, and if all goes well, we will be working into November.
The offseason is busy in terms of preparation. I try to set up team charts to follow who has departed and who has been added to each team. Following that has been made much easier this year with the MLB Network. Sometimes, a lot of the material you will use in a game in May might have been something you researched in January. I spend at least a couple hours every day perusing all my normal sites to see what is materializing across MLB.
Which AL team do you think improved the most this offseason?
–Christine, Binghamton, N.Y.
This may be a surprise to some, but from where they started to where they have ended up roster-wise, my answer is the Baltimore Orioles. Yes, they started with Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters, but they added a starter in Kevin Millwood, a closer in Mike Gonzalez and a solid position player in Garrett Atkins. They have pitching prospects on the way. The O?s are hoping for what the Rays did in 2008.
Not much has been made of the change on the coaching staff with Brad Mills leaving for Houston. Is this a big concern?
–Ted, Portsmouth, R.I.
My only concern is how one area has been compromised to make another solid. DeMarlo Hale has been the best third-base coach the Red Sox have had since maybe Eddie Yost. That said, he deserves to be and would be a great manager in the majors. Perhaps this move to bench coach will speed that process up for him.
The other area that will be a change is in regard to the go-between after games between manager and players. Brad Mills was so good at that. Terry Francona deals with the media after the game and Brad handled telling players who is playing, who is not the next day and other postgame issues. It doesn?t sound like much, but it?s been that way a long time.