1. Do you think that the "run prevention" model the Red Sox are advocating this year will be as effective as a strong offense could have been?
Hey, a run saved is worth exactly as much as a run scored (actually a bit more, theoretically speaking, but in the real world, one essentially equals the other). And this winter, the Red Sox apparently believed — correctly, in my estimation — that saving runs was cheaper than scoring them.
2. There has been concern in some circles that the Red Sox will strike out too much to be effective on offense. What are your thoughts on the subject?
I think that's silly. No, strikeouts aren't good, and yes, the Red Sox "added" a fair number of strikeouts with Mike Cameron and Adrian Beltre. But Victor Martinez and Marco Scutaro both are contact hitters (relatively speaking). Let's say the Red Sox move from fourth in the league in strikeouts to third. So what?
3. Should the Red Sox hand Josh Beckett a contract extension similar to (or possibly greater) than John Lackey's or A.J. Burnett's? If they don't, will Beckett find such a deal elsewhere?
Of course. I mean, assuming that he pitches as well this year as he did last year. Beckett's as good as those other guys, and the Red Sox know it as well as anyone. They also know you can't win without good starting pitchers, and unless Clay Buchholz quickly establishes himself as a future star, I would expect the Red Sox to go after Beckett hard.
4. Looking down the road to the trading deadline, if Adrian Gonzalez finds himself available, should the Red Sox do what it takes to land him (even if Beltre, David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis are producing)?
I wouldn't go that far, but they'll have to practice some due diligence. I mean, we're talking about a guy who's slated to earn just $5.5 million in 2011. Whether you've got a place in the lineup for him or not, a player with Gonzalez's abilities and contract is immensely valuable. If he becomes available, though, I suspect a contender that actually needs a first baseman would be first in line.
5. Who's the bigger threat to Boston — the New York Yankees or Tampa Bay Rays?
Oh, New York for sure. Not because of their talent — though they've got considerable amounts of that — but because of their almost limitless financial resources. It's been said many times and it's true: The Yankees can cover almost any holes that might open up.
6. Do you agree with Boston's handling of the Mike Lowell situation over the past year?
I do, assuming that they've been reasonably honest with him. I believe that once you get past the paycheck on time, honesty is just about all that any team owes any player. And even that has its limits.
7. Would it be best for Jed Lowrie to head to Triple-A and get some regular at-bats, or should he stick as the backup shortstop?
At this point, I'd like to see him play enough to get his stroke back, assuming of course that it's still there to be gotten. Also, the one thing you want from a bench player is reliability, and Lowrie's not been reliable lately.
8. J.D. Drew is a volatile name in Boston circles. Some believe he's an invaluable part of the Red Sox, while others believe he should be kicked off the team. How do you feel about him?
Drew's been worth every penny the Red Sox have paid him. Fans who don't see that are actively looking the other way. I didn't like his contract when he got it, but I was wrong, and the Red Sox were right.
9. Out of all the American League East teams, which team is best positioned to be at the top of the division over the next 10 years? Why?
I'll take the Red Sox by just the smallest nose, because I think the Yankees might eventually run into trouble with their obligations to Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter and perhaps Alex Rodriguez.