Are you surprised by the Manny Delcarmen trade?
— Fred, Gloucester, Mass.
I am. I did not see that coming. The Red Sox, at the trade deadline, appeared to be looking for some help in the bullpen. They were unable to find a suitable deal to their liking and in the end made two moves since that have shortened the bullpen. First, it was the deal with Ramon Ramirez — that appeared to be a move leading to something else and then Tuesday trading Delcarmen.
Delcarmen was inconsistent this year and his velocity was up and down. I always wondered how healthy he was at times this year. The Sox feel they got a good prospect in return in Chris Balcom-Miller, who was assigned to Single-A Greenville after the trade.
Can you access the team's mood after the Tampa series?
— Sal, Hinsdale, N.H.
No doubt the clubhouse was quiet more than it had been after most games/series. It was a big head-to-head matchup and after winning the first game, spirits were high. It was without a doubt deflating, but it is not over. I think most guys have a pretty positive outlook. You have a great many veterans who have been down before and you have a great many guys who are playing for future contracts, so packing it in does not make much sense. They have to get hot fast and at this point need help from the teams they are chasing. The remaining head-to-heads are obviously crucial. I keep thinking of the 2007 Rockies who made the amazing run of 21 out of 23 to finish their season and get to a one-game playoff. So never say never.
What happened to the rotation in 2010?
— Jake, Albany, N.Y.
Inconsistency is what happened. Very surprising. Heading into the year the strength was without question the starting pitching they had lined up. The injury and DL time for Josh Beckett was a setback and the inconsistency of John Lackey was unexpected.
On the bright side, Clay Buchholz has stepped up to be the pitcher everybody expected he could be at some point. Jon Lester, besides his four-game losing streak, has been solid, and Daisuke Matsuzaka remains a mystery. The weird part is that to begin the year, the concern was scoring runs and for the most part, that has not been the problem. To begin the year, you could make an argument that with the addition of Lackey, the Red Sox had the strongest starting pitching in the division. It did not work out that way.
Why do the Red Sox struggle vs. the lesser teams in the AL?
— Cindy, Seattle
No doubt it is a factor as to where they are in the standings. You hold your own against the Rays and Yankees and you need to beat up on the rest, and they have been unable to do that. With Tuesday night's loss to the Orioles, they are now 6-7 vs. Baltimore. The Orioles' morale is much improved since Buck Showalter took over and they are playing like they expected to play all year. So are the Red Sox playing them at the wrong time? Perhaps.
If you look back over the season, the record vs. sub-.500 teams could be the Sox' undoing in the end.
What is the plan for Felix Doubront?
— Tim, Erving, Mass.
The immediate plan was the bullpen. He was going to finish out the year as a reliever before being sent home with an ailing neck. He was doing well in that capacity until the two home runs he allowed Tuesday night. The Red Sox in the long term see him as a starter. This year has been a bit of a whirlwind for him having played at three different classifications: Portland, Pawtucket and Boston. Not to mention that this currently is his third stint in the majors this season. I do think there is a pretty good upside to his career for the future and again, that will most likely be as a starter.
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