Adrian Beltre has exceeded expectations this season to say the very least. He's played in 140 out of a possible 144 games, batting .325 with 27 homers and 96 RBIs. He's done great things in a Red Sox uniform, but will he be able to do so for years to come?
Will the Red Sox sign Adrian Beltre?
–Kim, Bellingham, Mass.
I think it will be very difficult. He accepted this deal really to set up his next deal. You go to Boston, have a huge season and then look for the big contract for lots of money and many years. He had the good season and now it is his and Scott Boras' chance to see what is out there. He held up his side of the deal.
I do not think money will be the issue in Boston, however, with him turning 32 years old next April, I am not sure he could continue doing what he has done four years from now. He has been the MVP of this year’s team and played through a bad hamstring for much of the season. I just think he will be looking for too much and if he is not, then Boras will be.
Will Jarrod Saltalamacchia be in the mix for next year?
–Megan, Burlington, Vt.
That's hard to say. It really revolves around the re-signing of Victor Martinez as a catcher or as a first baseman. My guess is that Victor will want to catch and if that is the case, you then have to figure out whether Jason Varitek should be brought back to be the backup. If not, is your backup Salty?
My thinking is that you would be hard-pressed to find a better backup catcher in the majors than Jason Varitek, so re-signing Victor and Varitek might be the best situation. If you are unable to sign Victor, then you are in a teacher-student setup with a Varitek-Saltalamachhia tandem. I also think we will see a lot of Salty down the stretch this September as the Red Sox evaluate his future and their own.
John Lackey has been very inconsistent. Do you see anything that sticks out?
–Donald, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
It looks to me like he may get tired late in his outings. There seems to be a developing pattern of six strong innings and then one bad — one that derails the entire outing. There are also nights when his curveball is sharp and effective and others where it seems to flatten out and is hittable. He has trouble staying away from the one bad inning. If there was an easy answer I am quite sure either he or John Farrell would have figured it out by now. I think there are many contributing factors. No one will ever admit to feeling the pressure, but he did sign a big contract and there was a lot expected here. That maybe was not always the case in L.A. His past track record is too good to have this continue.
What can be learned from the last few weeks of the season?
–Thomas, Attleboro, Mass.
I think we are learning a lot from watching the younger guys play, finding out whether or not they could be part of the future. Scouts are always hesitant to evaluate players in the spring and in September.
I think Ryan Kalish is at the top of my list of players that have been fun to watch so far, and I could see him maturing into the future. His extended stay in center field has given the Sox a good, long look, and the results have been solid.
Also, I have enjoyed watching Darnell McDonald, who was a former first-round draft choice by the Orioles, really get his first chance to play on a semi-regular basis. Over the next few weeks, we will find out more about some of the new September call-ups in the pen and more about Lars Anderson at this level.
You and Jerry talk about booths a lot. Where are the best working conditions?
–Bernard, Kingston, Mass.
Yes we do and it’s largely because it is our office. That's a great thing to say. We spend four hours there before the game most days and then at least three hours during the game, so it is our clubhouse for all intents and purposes. Some are better than others.
I would say Baltimore and Seattle are my two favorites. Both have great sight lines and lots of room to maneuver and hang out. Also, they have TVs in the booth to watch other stuff prior to the game, which is big. We can watch the Yankees or Rays if they play earlier and see what happened to them on the particular day. Both stadiums also are my favorite away from Fenway.